The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
April 05, 2012
Hazel has cancer. It's in her lungs, and she has to take oxygen to breathe. It has affected her life immeasurably, from her social standing to her relationship with her parents. When she starts attending a Support Group in the Heart of Jesus, the last thing she expects to find is someone who is interested in her romantically. Augustus Waters is not your typical cancer patient. He actually looks healthy. He's one of the lucky ones, in that he lost his leg...but he also lost his cancer. He's officially in remission.
When he invites her over to his house to watch a movie with witty banter and a mischievous grin, she can't help herself. He calls her Hazel Grace, and it never sounded more beautiful. This is perhaps one of the worst ideas ever: two terminal teens starting a relationship, right? Hazel is protecting herself, why shouldn't she? When she learns that Gus is in remission, it just further reinforces the idea that she should keep her distance. She doesn't want to hold him back...but he won't give up.
He tells her of his deep desire to leave his mark on the world and about his family and their reliance on inspirational Encouragements. They talk about their mutual friend who is about to lose his eyes to cancer. She tells him about her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. It holds the truest account of suffering from a terminal illness that she has ever encountered, and she reads it again and again. The book ends with major open ended questions, and Hazel has tried to contact Mr. Van Houten to get her questions answered to no avail...until Gus. He finds an email address for Mr. Van Houten's personal assistant, and Hazel manages to get an infuriating reply. If she comes to Amsterdam, he would be happy to share his answers...but he's too paranoid to answer them any other way. Hazel used her Wish for (oh the shame) Disney World. Gus, however, still has his, and he wants to take her to Amsterdam.
It looks like it might not happen when Hazel has a medical set back, but she and her doctor are determined to let her live her life. The encounter itself proves most interesting (and I wouldn't want to give it away), but on their return home, Gus must come clean. He has relapsed, and now she's the healthy one. After letting herself fall for him, can she handle this turn of the tides? Is their love strong enough to weather this storm?
Green's masterful prose both depresses and delights, never letting things get too heavy for too long. This is not a cancer book; this is a love story with cancer complications. Keep a tissue handy. Highly recommended for middle school and up. This is a great adult crossover title as well.
"'True," he said. "That's what we should do, Hazel Grace: We should team up and be this disabled vigilante duo roaring through the world, righting wrongs, defending the weak, protecting the endangered.'
Although it was his dream and not mine, I indulged it. He'd indulged mine, after all. 'Our fearlessness shall be our secret weapon,' I said.
'The tales of our exploits will survive as long as the human voice itself,' he said.
'And even after that, when the robots recall the human absurdities of sacrifice and compassion, they will remember us.'
'They will robot-laugh at our courageous folly,' he said. 'But something in their iron robot hearts will yearn to have lived and died as we did: on the hero's errand.'
'Augustus Waters,' I said, looking up at him, thinking that you cannot kiss anyone in the Anne Frank House, and then thinking that Anne Frank, after all, kissed someone in the Anne Frank House, and that she would probably like nothing more than for her home to have become a place where the young and irreparably broken sink into love....
And then we were kissing. My hand let go of the oxygen cart and I reached up for his neck, and he pulled me up by my waist onto my tiptoes. As his parted lips met mine, I started to feel breathless in a new and fascinating way. The space around us evaporated, and for a weird moment I really liked my body; this cancer-ruined thing I'd spent years dragging around suddenly seemed worth the struggle, worth the chest tubes and the PICC lines and the ceaseless bodily betrayal of the tumors," (Green pg. 202-203, 2012).
If you liked this, check out:
South Independence Branch
Green, John. (2012). The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books.Tags: book review