Wednesday, February 15, 2012


On my nightstand is an ARC of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.  I am having a very hard time getting into it because's about a dying girl.  DUH!  I mean, I already read John Green's The Fault in My Stars.  That's sort of about a dying girl.  And last night, I had the ambiguous pleasure? - honor? - um experience? of reading  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  The person dying in that book is a grown-up girl. 

Writing about dying people is not new in books written for younger people - or in any books for that matter.  But it just feels weird that so many books on the subject of cancer have crossed in front of my eyes this Fall/Winter.  Because of the Dad with cancer thing.  That's why it feels weird. Except, God willing, Dad is not dying of cancer - just of living a long life - and not yet.

I am nostalgic for the days when no one from my immediate family had cancer.  It seems like a very long time ago.

Back to the books.  The Monster Calls set me off on a crying jag!  Conor's anger, guilt and pain as he deals - or avoids dealing with - his mother's cancer and imminent death are absolutely wrenching.  The book served as biblio-therapy for me.  But there is nothing clinical about this book.  Ness creates a monster that forces Conor to face what is going on in his life with some very dramatic results.  The narrative is spellbinding.  This book is a worthy opponent in the Battle of the Books.  Read it, but as with The Fault in Our Stars, keep a box of tissues handy.

The book is based on an outline developed by author Siobhan Dowd who died of breast cancer herself.  I think she would like what Ness did with her story.

As for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl?  I haven't finished it yet but the premise of the book is one I bet a lot of teens can identify with.  Rachel - Greg dated her in sixth grade - has been diagnosed with leukemia and Greg's mom has decided that Greg should spend more time with poor, poor Rachel.  Awkward!  Greg is a good kid.  And he's got a manic motormouth that is very funny.  So his renewed friendship with Rachel seems to actually help her. There's something about film making here, too.  I'll give you my final verdict when I get through the whole book.

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