Hazel Lancaster has terminal cancer. At her cancer support group, she meets a very attractive cancer survivor, Augustus “Gus” Waters, and the two connect over An Imperial Affliction, an atypical cancer kid novel which ends in the middle of a sentence. Hazel and Augustus go on a journey to Amsterdam to meet the author of said novel and somewhere along the way they fall in love.
This was a very emotional read for me. Everyone has read this book and most have loved it, but I really didn’t know why. I totally get it now. It is near impossible to disconnect the emotional and personal experience of this book and approach this rationally. I cried my way through the last half of this book (I cry at everything, though, so if you are more stalwart you may cry less) and kind of got worked up in contemplating my own mortality and the mortality of the people I love.
I am a big fan of John Green and this book is no exception. He creates really wonderful characters who face a tragic situation with intelligence and humor. Hazel and Augustus bring such intensity to their living, feeling, and loving. It is the intensity of emotion of the teenage experience heightened by their closeness to death and disease. And I loved how they seemed like actual real kids dealing with a disease. Normalcy is what they crave and Hazel and Augustus are able to discover normal teenage love with one another. It was also interesting to see them having to deal with the big questions of life and death– Where do we go when we die? How do we leave our mark on the world? How will we be remembered when we are gone? It certainly left me questioning my own life and relevance.
I think what makes this book so special is the fact that it speaks to one’s personal encounters with death, dying, and disease. I think that really determines whether you love it or not. Throughout my reading I thought of the sick kids I was friends with as a child and wondered how their sickness had shaped our relationships. I thought of the people I know who are dealing with cancer. I thought about a close friend whose husband died unexpectedly a couple years ago. I thought about the funerals I’ve been to and the funerals I will some day go to.
The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful book and I hope that you will read it for yourself and come away as emotionally invested as I did.