I decided to read Me, Earl and the Dying Girl after seeing the trailer for the film, then decided to watch the film first anyway. This was a mistake. Or maybe it wasn’t because I didn’t much enjoy either.
“Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives. And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.” GoodReads.
Greg Gaines is a well-developed character. He’s not perfect, he hates himself a little in that typical teenager way, he’s terrified of life (been there, got the t-shirt) and he’s doing something because he thinks he should when really he wants to run away and hide. I understand that feeling of detachment and fear.
Also, Greg’s friend Earl is the best aspect of the book, giving life lessons and telling Greg exactly what he needs but doesn’t want to hear.
A barely developed female characters has to die for Greg to grow up and get over his fears. Rachel is dying from cancer, which causes life to throw Greg from practical anonymity to the spotlight, and I found it hard to care that he hates the sudden shift in social placement. I was too annoyed that a woman had to die for a boy to grow up. If I’d been able to get to know Rachel – which I couldn’t as Greg didn’t and he ‘wrote’ the book – I think my opinion of this novel would have been much higher.
Greg Gaines is a well-developed character. I know what you thinking, ‘wait, what? You said this was a pro’ and it is. However, the spot on nature of his characterisation perpetuates the entitled white nerd trope/real-life issue. I’m bored of sympathising with privileged white boys and men at the expense of women.
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl is an easy read, and definitely enjoyable but, unfortunately problematic. I wish I’d been able to enjoy it more.