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Mini Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


Mini Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I literally laughed out loud for at least 80% of this book

Review Date: June 25th, 2012

Cover Copy

My name is Greg Gaines. I am seventeen. I am the one who wrote this book. My physical appearance is unsatisfactory, and there is probably a fungus eating my brain. I’m not even sure I’m a human.

Earl Jackson is the only person who is even sort of my friend. We make mediocre films together. Werner Herzog is our biggest influence. Earl is generally filled with violent rage.

During my senior year, my mom forced me to become friends with a girl who had cancer. This brought about the destruction of my entire life.


I literally laughed out loud for at least 80% of this book–due to the main character’s voice and self-depricating humor–and I was pleasantly surprised by the sneaky depth of the story and the characters.

First Line

I have no idea how to write this stupid book

Favorite Lines

  • Can I be honest with you for one second? This is the literal truth. When I first started writing this book, I tried to start it with the sentence “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” I genuinely thought that I could start this book that way. I just figured, it’s a classic book-starting sentence. But then I couldn’t even figure out how you were supposed to follow that up… In desperation, I tried messing with the punctuation and italicization, like: It was the best of times? And it was the worst of times?!!
  • Usually the goal is to retire after making the best possible thing you can make–or, even better, die– but I did the opposite.
  • So in order to understand everything that happened, you have to start from the premise that high school sucks. Do you accept that premise? Of course you do. It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. In fact, high school is where we are first introduced to the basic existential question of life: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad?
  • And anyway, my point is that [her] freakout doesn’t have any measurable effect on anything. It’s like when a kitten tries to bite something to death. The kitten clearly has the cold-blooded murderous instinct of a predator, but at the same time, it’s this cute little kitten…
  • And if a jock, God forbid, witnesses you hobnobbing with theater kids, he will immediately assume you are gay, and there is no force on earth greater than the fear jocks have of homosexuals. None.
  • Also, she does this thing women sometimes do with their eyebrows where they just completely shave them off and draw new ones in a different weird place with a Sharpie or something…
  • Were there times when this goal seemed like the goal of a moron? Yes. But honestly, name one life goal that does not occasionally seem like the goal of a total moron. Even being president would completely suck, if you really gave it any thought at all.
  • Dave Smeggers, noted stoner, began telling me a long and excruciatingly pointless story about his summer, but was soon distracted by some birds, at which point I made my escape.
  • For the purposes of this god-awful book, I have to talk briefly about girls…
  • In fourth grade, I realized that girls were desirable. I had no idea what you were supposed to do with them, of course. I just sort of wanted to have one, like as a possession or something.
  • I considered a campaign of freaking her out by suddenly only talking about dinosaurs, or maybe even pretending to be a dinosaur…
  • My life had reached its highest point. I had no way of knowing that as soon as Mom walked in, the prime of my life was over. It had lasted about eight hours.
  • “Mitzvah” is Hebrew for “colossal pain in the ass.”
  • She was now using a voice that women usually reserve for cats.
  • I guess I should introduce my family. Please forgive me if this sucks.
  • She is the executive director of Ahavat Ha’Emet, a nonprofit that sends Jewish teenagers to Israel to work on a kibbutz and lose their virginity. I should point out that the virginity-losing part is not technically in the mission statement of Ahavat Ha’Emet. I’m just saying, you do not leave Israel without getting laid. You could have an eight-inch-thick titanium diaper bolted to your pelvis, and you would still somehow get laid. It should be their official tourism slogan: Israel. Where Virginity Goes to Die.
  • I realize you have no idea who Earl is still, even though we’re deep into this unbearably stupid book.
  • So that’s Earl. I’ve probably missed a bunch of stuff and will have to describe Earl in greater detail later, but there’s no reason to believe that you’ll still be reading the book at that time, so I guess I would say don’t worry about it.
  • I took a step forward with my arms out, for hugging purposes, but that just made me feel like a zombie.
  • And that’s part of the backstory for me and Earl. It’ll probably be relevant later, although who really knows. I can’t believe you’re still reading this. You should smack yourself in the face a couple of times right now, just to complete the outstandingly stupid experience that is this book.
  • It’s always a food competition. Food isn’t a sport. It’s ridiculous for cooks to be competing against each other. Like in Iron Chef, it always takes place in Kitchen Stadium. Kitchen Stadium? That’s ridiculous. And at the end it’s always like, You have competed honorably. How is it possible to be dishonorable? You were making a stew.
  • This entire paragraph is a moron.
  • This is just an incredibly dangerous combination, as you will see later in this book, if I can even finish it without freaking out and throwing my laptop out of a moving car and into a pond.
  • I have to say this: In that moment, Rachel was awesome. Meanwhile, I guess I probably have to describe the films to you. You’re being less awesome than Rachel, you stupid reader
  • If this [life] were a video game, you could just break everything in this room and a bunch of money would come out of it, and you wouldn’t even have to pick it up, you would just walk into it and suddenly it would be in your bank account.
  • Earl was stony-faced. “Everybody dies,” he said. Actually, he aid “Irrybody dies,” but that looks stupid written out somehow. How does writing even work? I hate this.
  • I said, to be annoying. Which was stupid because you shouldn’t practice being annoying.
  • I found that sometimes with Earl and another person around, a fun thing to do was narrate Earl’s behavior, especially if it meant simply rephrasing things that he said. Basically, the premise was that he had some irritating personal assistant who actually wasn’t useful in any way. // “I ain’t got eating-out money.” // “Earl has no money allocated for that purpose.
  • No one seemed to know how my broken arm got infected. Pretty quickly I stopped asking about it. I was worried I would find out that there were other basic medical facts that the nurses didn’t know, like where skin comes from, or how surgery works.
  • …the [hell] you think I’m gonna say no to this girl be dying out of cancer and shit.
  • Actually, I’m gonna stop doing this stupid bullet-point thing and just describe what happened with Madison. For a while I got tired of writing the normal way, but now I’m also tired of writing the bullet-point way. We really are caught between a rock and a hard place here. If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I truly do not blame you.
  • This was such a terrible idea that I had to pretend to be dead for five minutes, which was how long it took Mom and Dad to get bored of yelling at me and leave the room.
  • It was like when a dog makes a human-style face at you and you’re temporarily thrown off guard by it. You’re like, “Whoa, this dog is feeling a mixture of nostalgic melancholy and proprietary warmth. I was not aware that a dog was capable of an emotion of that complexity.

Last Word

  • FIN


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Reader, Author, Bookstagrammer, and Mom; Alexis runs Nerdy Post, a fandom artwork box as well as serves as chief editor and writer on Drop and Give me Nerdy.

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