Editor’s pick: “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”

“I have no idea how to write this stupid book.”

So begins “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” from debut novelist Jesse Andrews.

The narrator of this story is Greg S. Gaines, the socially impaired, mediocre looking, amateur film-maker extraordinaire. He spends most of his time trying to avoid forming any kind of bond to any one group at his high school and shooting low-budget movies with his “business partner” Earl Jackson, a fun-sized, foul-mouthed boy with serious anger management issues. Greg’s carefully guarded life gets turned on its head when his mom forces him to call up and befriend Rachel Kushner after her diagnosis of leukemia.

When I first picked up this book, I had no idea of the journey I was about to embark on. The novel is a quick, refreshing and laugh-out-loud funny read from start to finish. Something I really enjoyed was that a lot of the book was written like a movie script, which helped add to the humor and also sped up the pacing of the book. Throw in the outrageous chapter titles and the cackle-inducing prose to understand why I was never bored while reading. I can see this book appealing to a wide range of people, even someone who is not usually a reader.

The main character was so unique and real to read about. Greg is constantly beating himself up (“I’m punching myself in the eyeball”) for something he’ll say, calling paragraphs morons and questioning the reader’s sanity at various points throughout the book. He hardly ever says the right thing, but Andrews has somehow crafted this character in a way that made me root for and understand him. It was so nice to read from the perspective of someone so insecure, obnoxious and, quite frankly, very relatable.

Another refreshing aspect was that there is no actual romance between Greg and Rachel, which I was expecting when I first picked it up. Normally, I would be turned away by this, but in this case, it only added to the reality of the storyline. I think it’s a true testament to the genius of this book that it could still be entertaining without the aid of a typical Young Adult romance.

Fans of John Green will love this book due to the undeniable similarities in quick wit and themes, but “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a truly new breed of inventive literary work.

A movie adaptation is to be released on June 12 of this year, and I can’t wait to delve even deeper into this wonderful story.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a sometimes crude and always hilarious exploration of what it’s really like to be a teenager today, but it hides a deeper message of the balance between friendship and learning to become dependent on yourself.

5 out of 5 stars.