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.
This book was interesting. Though short and a quick read it took me longer than I expected to get through. I lost interest part way through, partly because I’m sick and kept falling asleep while reading, but primarily because I was not a fan of the MC for a large chunk of the book, or he and Earl’s bawdy language.
I will say this though, I got it. It’s a book that takes on all the tropes that come along with any “cancer book” and shows that, like in real life, these big dramatic, life-altering events don’t always have that big of an impact on you. Or you don’t automatically find an emotional well you had originally walled off. And that it’s awkward to deal with these sorts of situations, especially with people who you never had a very deep connection with.
There were also moments of hilarity. The first quarter of the book had me laughing out loud constantly.
However, it quickly becomes obvious just how flawed our MC is, and though he thinks he understands these flaws, he doesn’t. He’s a loner, scared to care about anyone or have anyone care about him because he’s terrified of not fitting in or being hurt. I can understand parts of this, as Greg notes several time – High School Sucks. Earl is the closest thing he has to a friend, and I loved that Earl was the blatantly honest moral compass of the duo, especially with his unconventional family life. Earl said all the things to Greg that I wanted to say. As Greg hangs out with Rachel though he also unveils an extremely selfish side of himself, and he can’t admit that he likes this girl even a little as a friend, and that drove me crazy. She’s the only person who listens to him, she doesn’t judge, she doesn’t try to make him change, she simply listens.
And while Greg points out numerous times throughout the book that there was no amazing connection between he and Rachel, that she didn’t change his life, that watching her die had no profound effect. It’s all a lie.
It’s all a lie while still being able to avoid the tropes of those Other Books though, and that’s where the charm of this really shines through. It was certainly not one of my favorite books, but I am glad that I read it, and it’s interesting POV is certainly refreshing and makes it worth the read.