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Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.
To read this book was the best and the worst idea I could have :
– Perfect because I couldn’t stop laughing.
– Not-so-perfect because I couldn’t stop laughing in public. Out loud.
Of course I earned a lot of weird glances. Merry Christmas, that’s so nice of you!
✔ Therefore, I laughed out loud during the whole book : in the train, in the park, in front of my family. Well, the whole time. Mostly, because of Greg, the main character and narrator of the book, the Me of the title, my buddy Greg.
“Music really only interested me as a soundtrack to a movie, and as for sports, I mean, come on. It’s some guys throwing some balls around, or trying to knock each other over, and you’re supposed to watch them for three hours at a time, and it just sort of seems like a waste. I dunno.”
Greg was such a relatable character! In my opinion, one of the most credible and believable teenager’s voice I’ve had the opportunity to hear for years. Oh, if you’re weird. I was undeniably odd in high-school. Maybe I’m still a bit. So Greg?
Here’s what I loved about him :
✔ The highly entertaining movies he makes with his
friend coworker Earl. At first, when I became aware that we’d have to go through the description of every single movie they made, I kind of freaked out. I mean, I’m not a movie-hater, but I’m not a movie-lover either. But you know what? It became one of my favorite parts of the book, because those summaries? Awesome. What? You’re not taking my word on it? See for yourself! That’s free!
Astonishing movie #1 : I though the exact same thing!
“Apocalypse Later (dir G. Gaines and E. Jackson, 2007). Again, not our best title. Once we found out what the apocalypse was, we thought that it was ridiculous that Apocalypse Now was not, in fact, about the End of the World. This movie can best be summed up like this :
1. Earl, wearing a bandanna and holding a Super Soaker, demands to know when the apocalypse is happening.
2. Offscreen, I tell Earl that the apocalypse is not for a while.
3. Earl sits in a chair and does a lot of cussing.
Astonishing movie #2 : Tested and approved by my cats!
“Cat-ablanca (dir G. Gaines and E. Jackson, 2008). The thing is, cats can’t act.”
Astonishing movie #3 : Because the title says it all!
“Batman versus Spider-Man (dir G. Gaines and E. Jackson, 2011). (…) The bat and the spider have never been enemies… until now!!!!”
Astonishing movie #3546286 : Ha ha ha, you’ve seen my point?
→ Greg, you’re totally cool. I wanna hang-out with youuuuuuuuu. Sorry about that.
✔His hilarious way to relate his own-life and the honesty with which he sees himself : No, Greg isn’t perfect, even far from it. He doesn’t know how to handle what he sees at first as a burden : that is to say, reacquainting himself with a former not-so-friend, Rachel, because she has been diagnosed with cancer. He isn’t popular, isn’t selfless, and especially not courageous. But his way to make a one-man-show of his own life was so funny I couldn’t help but forgive him, even when he was being a coward. And even if I’m not able to point the exact moment I started to be moved by him, that happened. Suddenly I’ve been touched by the vulnerability implied by every single sentence we read.
“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.”
I’ve already written more than 500 words and I didn’t even begin to deal with the cancer issue. Don’t think I’m stalling – I’m not. In my opinion, this book manages to handle the cancer issue in a way so accurate I consider it as a real gem.
Why am I thanking Jess Andrews? Because he never magnifies cancer and cancer patients. You won’t find here neither artificially-created love stories nor random teenagers magically answering existential questions. Because cancer does change people, but not always that much. Oh, and Greg is pissed. Yes, he is pissed, mad, and goes through all these emotions which have been labeled as bad. Rachel isn’t always fearless and strong : she’s upset, scared, she wants to give up sometimes, because fighting all the time is not humanly possible.
Finally, one of the main character is diagnosed with cancer but can Me, Earl and the dying girl be reduced to it? Definitely not.
That’s only an amazing, heart-warming, laugh-out-loud book you don’t want to miss. Only.
Icing on the cake? Listen to Greg : “If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I truly do not blame you”
PS: And I didn’t talk about Earl! Earl’s the best. That’s all you need to know.