Now, I am no expert. I do not have a degree in English. I’m not very widely read, I am what Eddie Izzard calls “thinly read”. So although I might not be providing a deep analysis on how the characters reflect themes, or other such flouncy literary prose. Instead, I will tell you how it made me feel. How it moved me with it’s wonderful storytelling. After all, as the fantastic author tell us: “Just because it’s fiction doesn’t change the fact that it matters.”
The Fault In Our stars is the sixth novel by vlogger, author, charity fundraiser and all round good guy John Green. Green was inspired to write this novel since his days as a minister on a children’s ward. He wanted to capture the reality of children having to fight cancer. The book is dedicated to one of his young fans, who sadly passed away when she lost her battle with the disease.
The story does center on Hazel Grace Lancaster and her battle with cancer, but more importantly her love for Augustus Waters. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is some desperate tragedy which will have you crying from the first chapter to the last word. I can promise you, your sobs will be spliced with booming laughs as well. No, this story is about so much more. Love, courage, the discussion of eggs being pigeonholed as a breakfast food. The real story here isn’t about kids with cancer, it is about love, and the marks we make on people. “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you.”
I am desperately trying to avoid spoilers because this book is such a joy to read. Now I’m worried I’m not telling you enough… but that is the general gist of the story. Girl has cancer. Girl stops caring. Girl puts on brave face for family. Girl meets boy. And then this is where our story really begins. I will not say another word on what happens after. If I only convince one person to pick up this book, I will consider this a job well done.
What is likable about our heroine? She is a realist. She is not perfect, but she is clever and it is very easy to warm to her. She is real. She has cancer, she falls in love, but she also likes Americas next top model. She isn’t Bella Swan, who likes to casually read Wuthering Heights in her spare time. (I mean come on, really? Fucking Bella Swan.) Hazel Grace never at any point comes across as a caricature. She is perfect, in a way, because she is flawed. She wants to protect her parents, to hide how she feels, because the only thing worse than being a kid with cancer is having your kid have cancer. Sometimes it’s harder to be brave in small ways, like protecting your parents’ feelings, than brave in the ‘bigger’ ways. Sometimes, carrying on and pretending to be okay, is the bigger struggle. And that is captured wonderfully in this book.
This book is evocative, funny and truly beautiful to read. Why do I love this book so much? Because of the way it makes me feel, how it made me question and think of concepts that, I may not have considered before. Because the true test, of a brilliant book, is the way it leaves you feeling. If you are still thinking about it days, weeks, months later, you know it has had an effect on you. And boy, did this book have an effect on me. Dear people of the Web, this book will leave you feeling hopeful, deliriously joyful, and yes, sad. But as the wonderful Sally Sparrow said; “Sad is happy for deep people”.
I will once more steal the words from John Green, to summarise how this book made me feel. And if nothing I have said before has convinced you to pick up this book, I hope this does.
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: Slowly, then all at once”.
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