Monday, June 17, 2013
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I knew going in that this book would be sad. It is the love story of two teenagers that meet at a Cancer support group. Hazel has terminal Stage Four Cancer, but has been reprieved the past few years by a miracle drug. She still has to carry around her own tank of oxygen everywhere she goes in order to breath. She may be seventeen, but she has already graduated from high school and is taking classes as a local college. After deciding she suffers from depression, her mother takes her to a cancer support group. Hazel soldiers through it, until the fateful day that she meets Augustus Waters. Augustus is in remission after having his leg removed.
Augustus and Hazel hit it off right away. They have hilariously witty dialogue and begin their relationship by recommending books to each other, which is my idea of a perfect way to meet! The book goes through their relationship and it is not always pretty, but it did show the humanity of the characters and what it means to live and love.
I made the mistake of reading a review of this book before I wrote my own (something I usually avoid) and the one I read faulted the book for the two teenage main characters speaking at levels they thought were beyond their years. I disagree with that review. Why is it that teenagers are always assumed to be stupid by people older than them? Looking back at my teenage years from my thirties, I still think I was pretty adult and responsible for my age. I also think my friends and I had a good understanding of life and witty dialogue. All teenagers are not silly idiots that can’t have a deep discussion about literature or death. Besides all of this, I think that Augustus and Hazel are forced into wisdom beyond their years by having to face their mortality at a young age. Also hanging out in a cancer ward of a hospital and seeing other kids that you have befriended die, would have to age someone.
As a mother, one point that struck me the most about this novel was Hazel’s overwhelming concern for her own mother and what would happen to her after her own death. While sick in the hospital, she had heard her mother tell her father that she wouldn’t be a mother anymore after Hazel died. Hazel was struck by this and the thought of herself destroying her own parents’ lives after her death consumes her. This makes her obsessed with her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, which is also about a teenage girl grappling with cancer. That book ends with an incomplete sentence and Hazel is consumed by the idea that she needs the answer to the fate of the protagonist (Anna’s) mother and the other people in her life, so much so, that she contacts the author. What ensues is both hilarious and painful.
I don’t want to describe too much more and ruin the book for those that have not read it. I can say though that this was a wonderful novel, well worth the recommendations. I will definitely be reading more John Green novels. This book has stayed in my thoughts in the two weeks since I’ve read it. It was one of those books that I had a very hard time putting down to do anything else, it consumed me. I highly recommend this book, but keep the tissues handy.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library