Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl: A Book Summary

A summary of the book Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.

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It’s 1988 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and seventeen-year-old Greg Gaines is trying to get through his senior year of high school without too much fuss. He’s not popular, but he’s not a social outcast either. He has two best friends: Earl, with whom he makes clever spoof films, and Rachel, a former classmate who has been diagnosed with leukemia. When Rachel’s parents force her to spend time with Greg “for her own good,” the three unlikely friends find themselves drawn together in a way they never expected.

Summary of the plot

The novel centers around the relationship between high school student Greg Gaines and his friend Rachel Kushner, who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. Greg is initially reluctant to spend time with her, but eventually comes to appreciate her company. The two bond over their shared love of movies and form a close friendship. When Rachel’s health deteriorates, Greg is by her side, helping her to come to terms with her disease and ultimately accepting her death. The novel is narrated by Greg, who intersperses the story with movie trivia and references.

The characters

The book is narrated by Greg Gaines, a high school senior who is trying to navigate the social landscape of his last year of school. He is joined by his best friend, Earl Jakobowski, with whom he makes films that they hope will one day be successful enough to get them out of their working-class Pittsburgh neighborhood.

The title refers to Greg’s encounters with two girls at his school. The first is Rachel Kushner, a classmate who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Greg initially befriends her at the urging of his mother, but he eventually comes to care for her genuinely. The second girl is Madison Andrews, a popular girl at school who takes an interest in Earl’s films.

Greg’s relationship with each girl brings him to places he never thought possible, and ultimately forces him to confront the things he’s been avoiding in himself.

Themes and messages

The novel Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews is a coming-of-age story about a high school student, Greg Gaines, who befriends a girl with cancer, Rachel Kushner. The novel explores the themes of friendship, love, death, and grief.

The novel sends the message that it is okay to be different and to not fit into the conventional high school cliques. Greg is an outsider who doesn’t really fit into any particular group. He befriends Rachel even though she is considered to be weird and unpopular.

The novel also explores the theme of death and how it can impact those who are left behind. When Rachel dies, Greg is left to deal with his grief. He learns that it is okay to grieve in his own way and in his own time.

Overall, the novel is a coming-of-age story that deals with universal themes such as love, friendship, death, and grief.

The writing style

The writing style of the novel is very stylized and dialogue driven. The author uses a lot of Description thoughout the book to set the scene. The book is also very fast paced and keeps the reader engaged with the characters.

The ending

The ending of Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl is left deliberately vague. It’s up to the reader to decide whether Rachel survived her cancer or not. However, it seems likely that she did not survive, as Greg says in the final few pages that he thinks about her every day and how things could have been different.

Critical reception

The book was generally well-received by most critics. Common praise focused on Thomas’s humor and the way in which he dealt with subjects like terminal illness and high school social cliques. Some reviewers, however, felt that the book was too dark or depressing, and that Thomas had difficulty developing his characters fully.

Comparison to the film adaptation

The 2012 debut novel by Jesse Andrews, Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, was met with critical acclaim and won several awards. It was adapted into a film by the same name in 2015, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and written by Andrews himself. The film was also successful, winning multiple awards including the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and being nominated for an Academy Award.

Though both the novel and film are excellent in their own right, there are some key differences between them. One of the most notable is the character of Earl. In the book, he is more of an observer; he films Rachel but doesn’t get to know her as a person until near the end. The film Earl is more proactive; he befriends Rachel from the start and their relationship is much more central to the story.

Another significant difference is the ending. In the novel, Rachel dies in hospital after her illness takes a turn for the worse. In the film, she dies at home surrounded by her friends and family. This change gives the story a much more hopeful tone; even though Rachel dies, she has been able to enjoy her time with those she loves most.

Both the novel and film adaptation of Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl are wonderful examples of young adult fiction that deal with difficult topics in an honest and moving way.

Further reading

If you’re interested in reading more about Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, check out some of the following books:

-The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: This is another novel about teenagers with cancer, and it’s been made into a movie starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: This is a young adult novel about a high school freshman who befriends two seniors. It’s been made into a movie starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.
-Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: This is a young adult novel about two teens who fall in love despite their differences.

About the author

Jesse Andrews was born and raised in Pittsburgh, where he still lives today. He attended Harvard University, where he wrote the first draft of Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl in his junior year. The novel was published in 2012 and was a New York Times Bestseller. In addition to Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, Andrews has also written two other young adult novels, The Haters and Untitled #4.

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