Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humor
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: March 1st 2012
3 OUT OF 5 STARS
“I learned absolutely nothing from Rachel’s leukemia.”
If Greg prides himself on anything it’s his ability to be friendly with everybody while not really having any friends at all. He spends his days drifting through different high school cliques. His only sort of real friend, Earl, is more like a co-worker, whom he makes films with. Greg is perfectly happy to lead his dull, easy life. Unfortunately, his mother sees things differently. When his mother learns Rachel has leukimia, she pressures Greg into being a better friend for her. The problem is they were barely friends in the first place.
There are times that this book is hilarious, and there are times that it is trying far too hard to be funny. Greg is a very real, well written teenage boy, which makes him a bit of a difficult narrator to appreciate. He’s constantly putting himself and the book down. His thoughts abut pretty girls are inane. Greg himself, while realistic, feels cold. It’s hard to feel his emotions. Far more interesting is his best friend Earl. Earl is funny, without trying to be, compassionate and complex. To complete the trifecta Rachel is a pretty blank slate. We know almost nothing about her other than that she’s nice and not attractive.
It was refreshing that this book didn’t take the usual wise cancer victim approach. It was also nice that there wasn’t any romance. However, both these things would have been nicer if the book didn’t rub them in your face fairly often. “I AM NOT LIKE THOSE OTHER BOOKS,” it screams, “I AM MORE REAL.” It is, in a way more realistic, which also makes the book a little tedious. It was, in most ways, what I expected. It could certainly have been better, but it delivered a realistic take on death and a semi-realistic take on the troubles of high school.