Grandparents should really listen to grandchildren. I am blessed with children who love to read and when one of them recommends an author I usually pay attention. Our granddaughter had raved about John Green but it took me awhile to get to him. I just finished his THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. I should have listened to her earlier.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is told by sixteen year old Hazel Grace Lancaster. Hazel spends most of her time re-reading her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, the story of a young girl dying from cancer, by Peter Van Houten. Hazel understands why the book ends mid-sentence; either the girl dies or is just too sick to continue. She does become obsessed with what happens to the other characters in the book, especially the mother and the pet hamster.
Hazel relates to the lead character in the story because she too has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Thanks to a miracle drug, the cancerous tumors in Hazel’s lungs have shrunk, and her time has been extended, with the help of constant oxygen tanks.
At a meeting of the Cancer Kid Support Group she meets Augustus Waters. Gus has come in support of his friend Isaac who is about to have surgery to remove the cancer in his eye which will leave him cancer free, but blind.
Gus and Hazel soon become close friends and eventually fall in love.She introduces him to An Imperial Affliction and he and Isaac soon have her playing computer games. Gus is also a cancer survivor, having lost his leg to the disease. The fact that he has his driving license at all, he says, is one more case of “cancer kid perks”
The journey through the relationship between Gus and Hazel as well as with friends and parents makes this a very good read. Hazel has the ability to understand what those who love her are experiencing and how hard it must be to be the parent of a terminally ill child.
The amazing thing about THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is that it really is full of humor. Hazel and Gus see things with an eye that mixes the silly with reality. Throughout the story they ask the questions that we all ask. Will I leave any mark on the world? Will I be remembered? and Why do people say such dumb things at funerals?
Again we have a book that is categorized as “Young People”, but please do not think that this is just another “teen- illness” book. The author has captured the reality of what could be a mawkish, tear-jerker, to the real life of young, intelligent, witty people who just happen to have a fatal illness. After all, we know that all star-crossed lovers have something standing in their way.
I am finding that so much of the insightful writings of today are supposedly being aimed at the youth market. (think The Book Thief). THE FAULT IN OUR STARS may be another case of “youth being wasted on the young”.
John Green is definitely an author to watch. He may make you cry, but you will laugh also. And isn’t that what we want in a good read?
Now I have to check what my granddaughter is presently reading.
Postscript: Just saw the news that filming has started for the movie version of this book. That is news that always makes me nervous. Hollywood has been known to miss the point.