I sat in bed the other night, crying giant ugly tears like a baby. No, no one had died. I was not severely injured or waking from a nightmare and there was no major tragedy going on in my life. I simply was reading a beautiful book with a bright blue cover. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was a superb, heart-breaking novel that, though intended for young adults, could be read by anyone who searches for characters that are complex and easy to adore and plots that are both sophisticated, intriguing, and real.
I remember reading Lurlene McDaniel’s books about cancer when I was younger. These books were everything a pre-teen girl could want – filled with love, sadness, and drama. No, they weren’t award winning, but I adored them and likely read every single work that she wrote during that time in my life. Green takes a different approach to writing about cancer patients and does not hide the hideous ugliness that cancer paints on its victims. This is what makes this book special and why you are able to fall in love with his characters. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are not just two teenagers in a book that fall in love while dealing with cancer, they are characters that come to life and force us to really understand how horrific disease can be for youth and all those who connect with them. Most importantly, it allows us to see that cancer, no matter how hideous it might be, does not define who you are, no matter what your age.
We don’t like to think about children or teenagers suffering from a disease that makes it difficult for them to walk or breathe or forces them to confront their own mortality. But that doesn’t hide the fact that this is the life of some of the youth in our world. Green honors these children with a beautiful story by creating an incredibly smart and witty heroine who, even though you know her inevitable fate, you root for. And although cancer obviously factors in to the story, ultimately, this is not a story about cancer – it is a story about friendship, love, and the great ability that humans have to affect their world and each other. That’s what Hazel and Augustus are able to do – they make life better for each other and the people that they meet along the way. No, their life is not easy, but it is still life and they must learn to live it.
Although I do think this book is best suited for students high school and beyond, I believe that it is a book many would enjoy. I often judge a book by how deeply it affects me and grabs at my soul. This one not only grabbed it, but held on for quite a while. The fact that I finished it within the last two weeks and already want to read it again should also be a good indicator of how much I enjoyed it. Though at times it is difficult to read in terms of emotion, – you will laugh at loud and may cry some ugly tears – it is very, very worth it.