Reviewed By: Emily
Young Adult Fiction, 295 pages, published by Allen & Unwin, Available in paperback, Nook, and Kindle.
Jesse Andrews is a writer, musician, and former German youth hostel receptionist. He is a graduate of Harvard University and lives in Brooklyn, New York. This is his first novel and is currently being turned into a screenplay with Dan Fogelman for Indian Paintbrush. Visit him online.
The Break Down:
Until senior year, Greg has maintained total social neutrality, slipping in and out of every social group with no allegiances. He has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, re-dos of cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you they’re f***ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel. Rachel has leukaemia. When Greg’s mum declares he must spend time with her, he’s not impressed. But as Greg and Earl get to know her, they try to make her days suck less. Then Rachel decides to stop treatment, and Greg and Earl find themselves making her a movie, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made, bringing Greg in a spotlight he has spent his entire life avoiding.
This delightfully weird book was a true pleasure to read, funny and sincere, not trying to be anything it isn’t. Like the main character said from the onset: “This is not a book about romantic love or big life changing moments. I can’t believe you’re reading this shit.” It’s a funny (and sometimes disgusting!) account of Life how it is – inexplicable, complex and not a fairy tale. Humour is not something you’d expect from a book on teen cancer, and even though Rachel is very sick, the book isn’t overwhelmingly sad.
What really makes this book is the relationship between Earl and Greg and how they respond to the situation like real teenagers. You don’t get the feeling that you’re really hearing the middle aged author masquerading as a teenager to impart some grand life lesson. Earl is hilarious and possibly the most random character I have come across in a YA book, yet for all his oddness he has his head on straight. I really enjoyed Greg’s self defacing humour and the fact that he’s completely oblivious to the effect Rachel’s death really had on him. It wasn’t an event he learnt anything from, it just happened and it hurt – this came across really beautifully.
Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a good face pulling laugh, something a little out of the ordinary, easy to read and with real characters.
This comic novel may not be for everyone on account of some foul language and some fairly disgusting commentary on what young boys get up to on their own. If you’re a boy, you already know what grossed me out, if you’re a girl, it’s probably better you find out about it now.
**** ½ - Four and ½ Really Bad Movies