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.
Loved the concept, loathed the writing style.
As many people have said, this is kind of the anti-The Fault In Our Stars novel. And while I did enjoy that book, I also appreciated this author’s completely irreverent take on the sick-kid trope – the utter lack of pretentiousness, of profound life lessons – simply an acceptance that shit happens, and it’s sad, and that’s life.
I’m not really putting this very well. My point is this: This book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons, or Little-Known Facts About Love, or sappy tear-jerking Moments When We Knew We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good, or whatever. And, unlike most books in which a girl gets cancer, there are definitely no sugary paradoxical single-sentence-paragraphs that you’re supposed to think are deep because they’re in italics. Do you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about sentences like this:
‘The cancer had taken her eyeballs, yet she saw the world with more clarity than ever before.’
However, the writing style really grated on my nerves – the teenage-boyness of it all, and the constant going back and forth in telling the story. As a personal preference, I like my narration nice and tidy.
Our main character, Greg, is sweet but annoying as hell. Again, I suppose that’s characteristic of many teenage boys. Despite this, he makes some astute observations, and he tries really hard, which I totally admired him for.
If you can get over the writing style, then I think many of you will enjoy the refreshing take on the teen-dying-of-cancer trope. More than that, the book also covers the complicated navigation of high school social hierarchies, class differences and self-image issues, in a way that felt really authentic.