Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars: A Book Review

In the Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Hazel is a 16-year-old girl diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her diagnosis has always been terminal, the goal is not to save her life, but to extend it. Augustus is a former high school basketball star who lost his leg to cancer. They meet at a cancer support group through a friend who is going to lose his eyesight to cancer, they strike up a friendship and then a romance as they bond through reading a book about a girl with cancer by Peter Van Houten. They eventually use Augustus' wish from the Genies (a Make-A-Wish foundation type) to go to Amsterdam and visit their favorite author. This book is about their pain, about emotional healing, about love.

I confess, after I found out what this book was about, I didn't want to read it. A book about children with cancer isn't going to give you warm fuzzies, but the second I decided not to read it, I heard about it everywhere. I finally decided to give it a chance and I read it straight through unable to put it down. A lot of times when I read a book it leaves me heartbroken for days afterwards, I am sad the characters's story is through and I am left wishing for another adventure. This book did exactly the opposite for me. I felt whole after I finished it. It sad and devastating, but somehow the way the characters deal with their pain, their love felt so healing.

I can't lie. I sobbed through the entire second half of the book. I loved Hazels and Augustus's humor and often found myself laughing out loud through my tears. I loved how real this book seemed to me. So many books describe cancer as an ugly thing to get through. This book describes it how I have seen it, terrible, life changing, life taking, soul aching, physical pain, but through all the pain, cancer is still not the defining characteristic of the person. They still have likes, loves and dreams outside of it. Augustus's dream is to leave a lasting impression on the world, Hazel wants to know what happens to the character's in her favorite book. They struggle and fight cancer together. Hazel worries about being a grenade that one day hurts everybody with her death.It is beautiful, heartbreaking and comforting some how.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it, but I also realize that it isn't for everybody. It is full of sarcasm, death, heartbreak and pain. There is some sex, mature language and drinking, so I wouldn't hand this to every teenager out there, but I feel like the message of the book is strong. You can fight things without them defining you. This book hurts me and comforts me and I wouldn't have it any other way.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”  - John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

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