Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Greg tries to stay anonymous and unseen in high-school, never associating himself with any group in particular. His one friend is a vertically-challenged, rage-filled boy called Earl and the only thing the two boys have in common is their love of terrible movies - which they attempt to re-create with a hand held camera.
When Greg learns that Rachel, a girl he accidentally started going out with when he was 12, is dying of leukaemia, his small friendship circle is suddenly doubled in size. Forced to visit Rachel by his overbearing mother, Greg realises he has a real talent for making her laugh, and that at long last he and Earl may have found a super-fan for their movies.
This surprising gem is at once moving and hilarious. Despite the solemn subject matter, which is never dealt with lightly, Greg and his misadventures will have you laughing out loud. He addresses the reader directly, and his self-depreciating manner and painful social misfortunes make him incredibly likable. The writing style is quirky, diverging from traditional prose to bullet point lists and movie scripts, following the jumbled inner monologue of the protagonist.
Andrews manages to avoid the common pitfalls of this genre and the story never dissolves into sentimental slush, instead the novel is realistic and naturally sad without forcibly pulling on the readers' heartstrings. It has been adapted into a film that is already gaining incredible critical acclaim - so read the book first!