Monday, June 17, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I have had numerous friends recommend John Green novels to me over the years, now I finally know what they were talking about! The Fault in Our Stars is the June selection for the FLICKS Book & Movie club, and we will have a lot to discuss at our meeting this week.

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


  1. I didn't think they spoke above their years either. With all their medical procedures, they were isolated from their peers and with adults a lot so they should be more mature. I adored this book and sobbed as I read it.

  2. I LOVED this one too and thought it an intelligent book. There are teens out there that are real smart. That's what made this book stand out too. I sobbed while reading it too and cannot imagine losing a child.

  3. I hadn't heard of this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

  4. This sounds very touching. I enjoyed your well-written review very much, Laura.

  5. Oh, boy. I know I need to read this. I love John Green's books. They all speak about the human experience in such different ways. I've had some crazy stuff happen the last few months and I'm getting weepy just thinking about this novel I haven't read...

    Love your review and know I need to get it soon!

  6. Thank-you! It was well worth the read, although I was sobbing by the end. I can't wait to read more John Green!

  7. I have this loaded on my phone and hope to listen soon... so much love out there for this book and John Green in general. Thanks for the review!