Let me start off by saying that I am not an overly emotional person. I rarely cry during movies or while reading. You could say I’m a tough critic. That being said, the 2012 novel “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green made me cry like a baby in the best possible way.
“The Fault in Our Stars” follows the life of 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who could be thought of as a typical teenage girl in most respects. Hazel watches TV and reads constantly, has to deal with her overbearing parents, takes classes and has a crush on a boy. Hazel is not a typical teen, however, because she was diagnosed at age 13 with stage IV thyroid cancer, which has spread to her lungs.
Hazel’s parents force her to go to a support group so she can socialize with other kids and teens also dealing with cancer, and it’s clear that Hazel would rather be anywhere else. It is there that she meets Augustus “Gus” Waters, a very attractive boy who has lost his right leg to osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, but is in remission. Gus makes Hazel happy in a way she never thought she could be, and they truly understand each other.
Hazel and Gus bond over a book called “An Imperial Affliction,” which is about a girl named Anna who also has cancer. Despite the fact that both Hazel and Gus have cancer and Hazel’s life expectancy is bleak, they didn’t let it stop them from falling in love and chasing dreams.
“The Fault in Our Stars” is one of those books that once you pick up you can’t stop reading until it’s done. I’m the type of reader who is constantly guessing and trying to figure out what’s going to happen, but I was completely wrong with this book. The tension and impending sadness linger throughout the book and it becomes obvious that it will not end happily. Hazel’s narrative voice brings some humor to the story, though, and helps to lighten the plot.
Every time I started to get sucked into the love story, the harsh reality of what was really happening to Hazel and Gus slapped me back. It’s hard to image actually being a teen with cancer, always knowing that there is something trying to hold you back from life. “The Fault in Our Stars” is a book that makes readers keenly aware of just how difficult and beautiful life is when you’re forced to live with one foot in the grave.
Despite the sadness this book caused me to feel, I enjoyed every second of reading it. It’s rare that a fiction novel causes such a strong reaction in readers, and judging by the fact that “The Fault in Our Stars” has made the best sellers list and received rave reviews, it’s clear that this book has had an impact on its readers.
The book is going to be adapted into a film and is expected to be released in theaters June of this year. The film will star Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Augustus.
“The Fault in Our Stars” and other John Green novels are available for checkout at the Bruce T. Halle Library.
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