Two New Reviews From Our Local Book Reviewer

By Adventures in Obsessive Reading 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrew
Page Count: 295 w/o author interview, 308 w/ interview
Rating: A
Keywords: Comedy, Cancer, High School, Film Making, Friendship
Genre: YA
Younger Readers: Language and content can be crude at times, drug use, parents should be aware

This is a YA book revolving around the tough topic of cancer. Many people will instantly think of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. This is an understandable comparison and I certainly felt a similarity between the two books, but Me and Earl and the Dying Girl stands alone as a great book. I was in a reading slump for the past few weeks and this book pulled me out of it. It took less than a day to complete and I loved it. But be warned: this is not a book for everyone. You will either love it or hate it.

Greg and his best friend Earl are certainly vulgar in both topics of discussion and language. As a 20 year old reader this did not bother me so much. Younger readers or more sensitive readers may be turned off by this. It just depends on your brand of humor.

I really enjoyed the way that Andrews handled the topic of cancer. It was not a fairytale or some tragic drama. Greg was not a knight in shining armor that knew exactly how to fix everything. He was a kid, an odd one for sure, but not anything supernatural in its oddity. The situation was tough for him. He was selfish and dumb. There were moments where he messed up. Such moments were presented in a way that did not make the reader hate Greg. He was not a villain. He screwed up and hurt people, but he’s a kid in high school. He doesn’t know how to handle that the girl he’s known most of his life is dying. This is so real. They weren’t close before her diagnosis and guilt more than anything drives his actions. He knows how he should feel but he is closed off. He tries to do the right thing but messes up from time to time. The moment he feels anything is heartbreaking and beautiful. This touch of reality, that you don’t really realize until you’ve completed the novel, made me love the book even more. It doesn’t try too hard.

There is not a happy ending. Not everyone lives happily ever after. But this furthers the feeling of reality. Not everyone gets the perfect life. Greg is growing up. He and Earl change their minds about what they want out of life. Greg experiences fears about his future success. It is not perfect. That’s what makes it so great.

Overall I would highly recommend this book.

The Missing Ones
Author: Patricia Gibney
Page Count: 424
Rating: B
Keywords: Ireland, Mystery, Church, Murder
Genre: Mystery
Narrator: Michele Moran
Duration: 13 hours and 56 minutes

Younger Readers: Sexual assault, language, and drugs are all present

A decided to give this series a chance after listening to a brief sample from the audiobook. I loved Michele Moran’s reading! It was fun and she fit the read perfectly, giving it life and personality beyond what I had expected.

As far as the writing went, it was an interesting mystery that at times felt like a newer writer but was enjoyable overall. The feeling of newness wore off as the story progressed and I was able to get more into the story of Lottie Parker. At times she comes across as a bit rough and difficult to like but I found myself warming to her over time. She is a grieving widow doing her best to be good at her job and take care of three kids on her own. 

Sometimes I did notice that the mystery could have gone a bit deeper, that certain elements could have been explored more. This was my main complaint with the book. It was certainly enjoyable and interesting. There were just times that with a bit more thought and exploration it could have been turned into something not just good, but great. Despite this, I would be open to reading the next book in the series and see how both the author and Lottie develop. 

I would not recommend this book to anyone sensitive to sexual assault or that could be offended by the topic of church officials conducting said abuse. However, if you do not mind reading these sorts of topics then I would definitely give this series a try.

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