BOOK: Jesse Andrews’s debut novel is a smash hit. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about two best friend/co-workers and their schoolmate who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. While it is a coming-of-age story with emphasis on relationships, it is not a love story. In fact, main character Greg seems to be weirdly complacent about his dying friend. This story crawled under my skin (in a good way!). Andrews was able to touch on a heavy topic without bogging me down. He’s taken what many say is an overused template of a story and flipped it upside down. This novel is about living, not dying. Greg Gaines’s cripplingly low self-confidence drives his desire to remain on the periphery of high school life, but when his old friend from Hebrew school gets sick, his mother forces him to engage with her. Told from Greg’s perspective, my favorite thing about this novel is Greg’s idea of himself and his interactions with people. Greg is so unsure of himself I spent most of the book wondering what was really happening vs. Greg’s skewed vision of himself. I also have to mention that it is truly hilarious and I laughed through almost all of it! Andrew’s style is great for YA, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the genre. Bravo, Andrews! 4 1/2 stars!

MOVIE: I heard of the movie adaptation of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl before I knew it was a book. My younger sister recommended it to me, and from the description she gave, I was pretty sure it had to be Fault in Our Stars knock-off.  I’m so happy to report that it’s anything but! Oddly, my friend and I were the only viewers under 50 in the theater. We were under the impression this was a movie geared towards teens, despite its minimal advertisement. I’m happy to report this movie has broad appeal. Everybody in the theater (young, old, and very old alike) cracked up what seemed to be throughout the entire movie. One good thing about seeing the movie before reading the book is that you have no expectations for the characters and you get to know them without any prejudice. I have to be honest and say I like the movie versions of the characters better than the book characters. I thought they and their relationships to each other were a little more truthful in the movie. This was probably because you don’t hear everything through the filter of Greg’s brain. The only thing I really wish was included looking back was more background on Earl, but I didn’t notice it when actually watching the movie. There are some awesome references to old movies in there, and that’s part of why I like the movie a little better. In the book, Earl and Greg remake old movies but they actually do a terrible job. In the movie, they’re hilariously creative, lighthearted and actually pretty fantastic. I think this was a really nice touch. This was also Andrews’s first screenplay and it’s totally awesome. 5 stars!