Andrew’s chapter titles are WAY better than my post titles. Proof.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews (2012)

I don’t know what it is about my spring reading habits, but so far this season I’ve read two YA novels that are simultaneously about a girl dying of cancer and laugh-out-loud funny (Mr. Green’s The Fault in Our Stars being the first one, of course).

Greg Gaines is entering his senior year of high school, otherwise known as his fourth year of attempting to be invisible in the eyes of the student body. His low-key friendliness and self-deprecating humor have allowed him to ease through the school hallways without attracting much attention. Instead of joining any clubs or teams, he directs and stars in super-secret remakes of his favorite films with his short, angry partner-in-crime, Earl. Things are running smoothly, until, of course, Greg’s mom forces him to hang out with a girl from school who is dying. And how does an awkward teenage boy react to that situation? Needless to say, not well.

Greg narrates this tale of his downward-spiraling senior year interspersed with lists, script dialogue (there’s a word for that in film-lingo, isn’t there? Clearly I’m a film dunce), asides to the reader, and lots of bad language (which I find particularly amusing).

Here’s what made this book so great: It felt more real than anything I’ve read in a long time. I mean, I loved TFiOS as much as the next book blogger, but… it had the magical fiction glow. You know. The perfect lines, the honorable intentions, the nice bow ending. Me and Earl, on the other hand, didn’t…. glow, per se. In fact, in many places Greg acknowledges what would have happened in the “fictional” version of this story and points out that those things did not happen in this story. Instead, Greg says the stupid things. He has opinions and reactions that are far from honorable. And the ending lacks a bow. It’s fresh, invigorating, and WILL make you laugh.

Also, every page that includes Earl is a good one. Thank goodness he’s on many of them.

2.5 stars, mostly for Earl. Favorite debut so far.

The Absolutely Hilarious Diary of a Heartbreaking Life

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (2007)

I just love this book. So so so much. This is my second time reading it (this time for class) and I love it just as much as last time.

As the title implies, Sherman Alexie’s first young adult novel is written as a diary of freshman high schooler Arnold “Junior” Spirit, extra-weird kid on the Spokane Reservation. After a conversation with one of his teachers, decides to leave the Rez, where Junior realizes he will die a quick death if he doesn’t escape,  for an all-white school 22 miles away. Suddenly he is thrust into a completely different world where he is either ignored or stared at, and loses his best friend in the world, who feels like Junior deserted him.

Junior’s hilarious observations make his heartbreaking tale one that I will not forget for years to come. Alexie’s novel had me laughing out loud and tearing up at the same time, an emotion that is hard to come by (unless I’m watching Steel Magnolias, of course).

3 stars, 100%.

PS I apologize for the short review, but I just feel like there’s not much to say except READ IT NOW!!!