Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release date: January 2012
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means) Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
There are books that one reads for adventure. There are the ones read for fun. There are books that are naught but a passing experience. Then, there are those books that change your life so much that you hold on to them for the rest of your life. The Fault in Our Stars is one of those books.
I admit that I'm not big on Young Adult books, mainly because I think some of them present a too simplistic take on life, such as the ideal romance, love triangles and many times, stereotypified characters. But this time, I found a YA book that met my hopes and even surpassed them. As far as Young Adult novels go, this is without any doubt one of the most remarkable novels out there, and so far I have not found one more meaningful. This isn't an ideal love story between perfect people, but that’s why it’s perfect. It’s perfect because it’s so desperately human, and there’s some beauty in being that human.
If you've read the synopsis, you’re probably not expecting a light-headed read. Disease is hard. It is a touchy subject, one many people can relate to, though Green handled it beautifully. But don’t you think, even if for a second, that you won’t be able to laugh, too. There are many pieces of wittiness and sass to lift your spirits, many self-aggrandizing words and interesting conversations. It’s amusing, it is fun, and it is smart. However, if you’re like me, you will cry much more. It’s hard not to, since Hazel’s voice telling her own story makes it very personal. This book is not just about cancer, but cancer is as much a part of it as it is a part of the lives of real people with the actual disease.
Nevertheless, I would still not say this is a book about cancer. For me, it’s a book about people. Some of them become their disease, some of them don’t. Just like in real life. It’s about young love, too, and hopes, and anger, and unfairness. It’s a book about people who have done bad things becoming a bit better, as much as it is about the degradation of good people. It’s a book with wailing and crying and screaming for help, which left me emotionally exhausted for days. It’s a book with laughter and promises and hopes, and growing together. It’s a book about small struggles and bigger wars.
It is a book. It is a brilliant book. Much has been spoken and written about this work, a lot better said and written that what I'm capable of. I will say no more on it, because those who haven’t read it yet have yet to realize the full impact words can have in one’s life and vision, and those who have are as scarred as I am, as happy to have found it as I am, and most will probably be at loss for words to explain it better. I know I am.
To Mr. John Green, thank you Sir, thank you very much. It was a privilege to be able to read this book and be a part of these character’s lives. It was a privilege to try and write a love letter to your book, preaching about it in my own clumsy words.
And, if you stranger, are one new to this novel, I can only wish you can find that the world fits in it, as I did.
Read it. Love it.
The book in a quote
“What I love about the sculpture is that it makes the bones that we are always walking and playing on manifest, like in a world that so often denies the reality of death and the reality that we are surrounded by and outnumbered by the dead. Here, is a very playful way of acknowledging that and acknowledging that and that always, whenever we play, whenever we live, we are living in both literal and metaphorical ways on the memory and bones of the dead.”