Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

TIME Magazine’s #1 Fiction Book of 2012!
The Fault in Our Stars is a love story, one of the most genuine and moving ones in recent American fiction, but it’s also an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.” —Lev Grossman, TIME Magazine
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My thoughts:
I had been wanting to read this book for quite a while when I saw it on the shelf at the library.  I am so glad that I decided to read it and, while some reviews I've read have featured readers lamenting that they waited so long to read the book, I am not upset about the wait.  I thinks sometimes books are read by a reader when they are ready for them versus when they are popular or new.  Maybe a year and half ago I wasn't in the right place at the right time for this book.

Hazel has been living with her terminal diagnosis for a number of years.  Since her cancer progressed she carries her oxygen tank with her where ever she goes, sleeps with a different tank, and has needed to be homeschooled.  Since she has little interaction with people her own age, having since started attending community college after getting her GED, her mother takes her once a week to a support group for teens with cancer.  The leader of the group, a man who had testicular cancer but has been in remission for years, holds meetings in the basement of a church in the "literal heart of Jesus" with a group of teens.  When he prays at the end of the meeting he says the names of all the members they have lost since the groups started, with each new name being added onto the end of the lengthy list.  One night a new member is there to support his friend.  Hazel meets Augustus and so begins a love story.

Even though cancer is always there, it is a backdrop and this is not a book about cancer.  It is a book about continuing to live with the life you have.  Even in times of great stress, we are all striving to have meaningful relationships with the people in our lives and to find and give love.  Hazel worries about the impact  her eventual death will have on her parents, about whether or not she looks pretty and about whether or not having a relationship with Augustus is a good idea. Being that the main characters both have or have had cancer, there is an element of sickness and hospital stays in there as well.  But overall, the book shows that with or without cancer, these are two teenagers who have the same hopes and wishes as anyone else, just with a much lower expectation of reaching a ripe old age.

Hazel has a favorite book, that she rereads regularly that ends in the middle of a sentence.  She has wondered for years about what happens after the book.  Why did the main character stop mid-sentence?  What happened to the girls mother?  Is the Dutch Tulip man trustworthy?  She has obsessed over this book and she shares it with Augustus, while agreeing to read a book based on a video game that he in turn recommends.  This book is another backdrop to the story.  Cancer and a reclusive writer and two teens who fall in love and form a bond in an uncertain time.  I cried while reading it over something I was not expecting. (I must state here that I am always optimistic, so I can be caught off guard at odd moments.  My husband's reaction was along the lines that I was reading a book with quite a few characters with cancer, how was I surprised that they all did not maintain good health?  Surprise might be the wrong word, but I always hope for the best so can be surprised by the worst if that makes sense.)

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525478812
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

John Green
John Green is an award-winning, New York Times–bestselling author whose many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers, one of the most popular online video projects in the world. You can join John’s 1.1 million followers on Twitter (@realjohngreen). John lives with his wife and son in Indianapolis, Indiana.

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar experience; while I had my own expectations about where it was going; I was still taken by surprise and really moved as the story played out.