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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews



What happened when I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl epitomizes what I love about my job. Erica, the sales manager at the book’s publisher, Abrams Books, told me that this was her personal favorite on the spring list for 2012. I was eager to check it out. As I read, and began laughing hysterically, I started to get excited about the book’s potential. I was enjoying the book immensely. I also began brainstorming about unsual ways to create buzz for this book. At one point, a reader for the book came immediately to mind. I knew an author in Atlanta who would be the perfect reader. It wouldn’t be the first time this author came to mind, and each time she and I have connected because of a book, wonderful things have happened.

I called Erica and asked her to send a copy to the author right away. Sharing books with the perfect reader is a barometer for the potential audience for the book. I also made sure my teacher reader in Indiana had access to it. He teaches 11th grade AP language arts and has a wicked sense of humor and I knew he would love the book.

Fast forward. One day on Twitter the three of us found ourselves in a hilarious conversation on Twitter with the author, Jesse Andrews. It is so much fun to experience excitement about a new author, a fantastic reading experience, with other readers and the author, too!

Here is some of that Twitter banter, including some general tweets shared about the book.

Laurel Snyder:
@LaurelSnyder I’m reading a YA right now where the [main character] has these “imagined” scenes that read as screenplays #mglitchat

@LaurelSnyder Deeply satisfied, I retire to the HILARIOUS BOOK I’m reading. Nighty night!

@muellerspace Eavesdropping on you and the book you’re reading. Unless you seriously can’t tell us.

@LaurelSnyder Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Naughty eff-bomb laden YA about a geeky boy and a girl with cancer.

@LaurelSnyder Too soon to tell if it’s going to “go deeper” but I can say it’s brilliantly funny and kids will LOVE.

@LaurelSnyder Oh, & also— this awesome YA book is about a JEWISH kid. That’s right! First Mirka, then Inquisitor’s Apprentice and OJ, now this.

@LaurelSnyder And there are these screenplay thoughts/excerpts in the book. Oh, it’s GOOD. I predict big things.

@LaurelSnyder This book is a riot AND it’s about a girl with cancer. How does one do that?

@LaurelSnyder “It’s somehow worse to draw attention to the fact that there are two boobs. ‘You have nice boobs.’ Bad. ‘You have two nice boobs.’ Worse.”

@LaurelSnyder Oh, hell. This book is awesome. An awesome funny BOY-MC YA book. I cannot stop laughing. It’s Adrian Mole on speed, with lots of cussing.

@LaurelSnyder Okay… I’m officially starting a @swerdnaessej [Jesse Andrews’ Twitter name] fan club. Just finished his book & I cried from laughing, & then, umm… the other way too.

Me:
@trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej I’m joining the fan club. Maybe we can get @PaulWHankins, too.

Paul W. Hankins:
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej I missed the thread, but if you’re talking about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I am in…

@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej Abrams, & Amulet continue to provide readers with super titles in the humor genre.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej Okay. I just spewed Vernor’s all over my laptop. Earl’s first lines in the whole book? Too rich.

@trkravtin @PaulWHankins Are you laughing? @laurelsnyder @swerdnaessej

Jesse Andrews:
@swerdnaessej @trkravtin @PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder I am a little worried you guys are all fake aliases my mom created to improve my self-esteem.

@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej @trkravtin I like it. Let’s play with him a little while. Let me look at his profile picture again.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder Yep. As I suspected. Looks like Seinfield and De Niro had a love child. This makes for funny (wink).

@LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Hilarious romp about cancer, immobilizing self-awareness, family, class and donkey d*cks.


@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej The most telling, most brutally honest look at the microcosm called high school.

@swerdnaessej @trkravtin @paulwhankins @laurelsnyder Oh man, you guys. I am legitimately verklempt right now.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder Earl is all the great sidekicks. If we do Hero’s Journey with this, we have to include his question.

@trkravtin @PaulWHankins I thought Earl was great, too. @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder

@LaurelSnyder I thought Earl was VERY carefully balanced. Tricky stuff, that. But so smart, and so purposeful. @trkravtin @PaulWHankins @swerdnaessej

@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @trkravtin @swerdnaessej I love how Earl is able to float among characters, infiltrate Greg Gaines.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @laurelsnyder@swerdnaessej “I know you’re Jewish but I just want to say something from the Bible.” Too funny.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej “She wanted us all to be ‘surprise Jews.” Meaning, with sneaky Anglo-Saxon names.” Classic.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej The main characters response to the news about Rachel. So authentic. This book’s a winner in 2012.

@LaurelSnyder Yes, this. So actual. So honest. And the growth is the same way, incremental, believable. @PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej

@swerdnaessej @LaurelSnyder @PaulWHankins @trkravtin Hurrah for you guys! And again, it’s fine if you’re all my mom/grandma, just please cop to it

@PaulWHankins 5 of 5 stars to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews bit.ly/t7RHjp

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 9781419701764 ABRAMS Books/Amulet Jesse Andrews $16.95 Cloth.

Laurel Synder is the author of many books for children. Her most recent novel is Bigger than a Bread Box, and her most recent picture book, Good night, laila tov, is brand spanking new and perfect for Earth Day!

Paul W. Hankins teaches 11th Grade English and AP English Language and Composition in southern Indiana. He is the creator/moderator of RAW INK Online, a digital learning community that connects his students with the Young Adult authors they are reading. Hankins created the hashtag campaign, #SpeakLoudly and co-hosts the new SpeakLoudly.org site with David Macinnis Gill. Hankins lives in southern Indiana with his wife, son, and daughter. A writer, Hankins’ work can be found in an anthology, Where Handstands Surprise Us and Motif 2: Chance.

Read my Goodreads review here.

Read Jesse’s post on the Abrams Blog here.

UPDATE: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a top six pick for the 2012 Spring New Voices for Teens by the American Booksellers for Children Association.

Kirkus *STARRED REVIEW*: “Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable…”

A frequently hysterical confessional from a teen narrator who won’t be able to convince readers he’s as unlikable as he wants them to believe.

“I have no idea how to write this stupid book,” narrator Greg begins. Without answering the obvious question—just why is he writing “this stupid book”?—Greg lets readers in on plenty else. His filmmaking ambitions. His unlikely friendship with the unfortunately short, chain-smoking, foulmouthed, African-American Earl of the title. And his unlikelier friendship with Rachel, the titular “dying girl.” Punctuating his aggressively self-hating account with film scripts and digressions, he chronicles his senior year, in which his mother guilt-trips him into hanging out with Rachel, who has acute myelogenous leukemia. Almost professionally socially awkward, Greg navigates his unwanted relationship with Rachel by showing her the films he’s made with Earl, an oeuvre begun in fifth grade with their remake of Aguirre, Wrath of God. Greg’s uber-snarky narration is self-conscious in the extreme, resulting in lines like, “This entire paragraph is a moron.” Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic, however fiercely he professes his essential crappiness as a human being.

Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2011), it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart.
Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*: “One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book.”
Greg Gaines, 17, would be the first to tell you that his constant “dickhead behavior” makes him the least likely person to befriend a classmate dying of leukemia. But he’s pushed into it by his mother and, well, the result is this “horrifyingly inane,” “unstoppable barf-fest” of a book. Greg prefers to keep a low-profile at school, instead collaborating with his almost-gangsta pal Earl on terrible remakes of classic films: Apocalypse Later with Super Soakers, The Manchurian Cat-idate with cats. But his knack for cracking jokes keeps the dying girl, Rachel, smiling, and pretty soon the whole school thinks he’s some kind of hero. He’s even pushed into making a final opus: Rachel the Film, a.k.a “the worst film ever made.” One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book, highlighted by screenplay excerpts and Earl’s pissy wisdom. What’s crazy is how moving it becomes in spite of itself. The characters are neither smart or precocious. Greg is not suitably moved by Rachel’s struggle. His film sucks. He thinks “bereavement” means “being attacked by beavers.” But it’s this honest lack of profundity, and the struggle to overcome it, that makes Andrews’ debut actually kinda profound.
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