Me and Earl and the dying girl by Jesse Andrews
Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760290184
(Age: 14+) Recommended. For those thinking this contemporary debut is similar to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, think again. This entertaining and highly realistic novel is not your average 'sick lit'. Greg Gaines is a bit of a social chameleon. His goal is to remain civil with everyone at school but not to belong to any particular clique. After all, Greg just wants everyone to like him. He only has one real friend, the pint-sized and foul-mouthed Earl, who shares his love of film making. At least Greg only has one friend until his mother makes him hang out with Rachel, an old childhood acquaintance who has been diagnosed with leukaemia. Despite Greg's protests, his mother believes that he can use his infamous humour to cheer Rachel up in her time of need. Greg ends up sharing more with Rachel than just his jokes, and he is well and truly pushed out of his comfort zone. The one thing that he tried to avoid, being disliked by anyone, becomes all too hard after all.
Jesse Andrews explores many themes in his debut including grief, peer pressure, poor family backgrounds, and of course, cancer. He tells the story of a leukaemia stricken girl in a very honest way and uses humour to soften the harshness of this topic. Some mature middle school students could handle this book, but it would better suit senior school students due to the language used, and the reoccurring use of drugs and smoking in the novel. Although, both are well within the context of the story and are necessary in exploring the theme of poor family backgrounds. Boys will especially enjoy this truly hilarious and very real novel.