Publication Date: 10th January 2012 (1st published Nov 2011)
Book Source: Own purchase
Synopsis: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
The Fault In Our Stars is beautifully written. Not sure it'll make my favourite read list this year but I'm very glad I read it. I'm sure each person reading it takes something different from the experience ... here's what I thought:
Cancer and death aren't strangers to me, cancer like many other happenstances is sad and shitty and unfair and very un-pretty. There's nothing fun or light-hearted about it but there is still this very human capacity to grasp joy with both hands, to joke in the midst of tears, to cry and laugh in the same breath. I think John Green captures this ... for me anyway.
After our baby girl's funeral I remember someone heading outside for a cigarette and someone else making the throw-away comment "that's another nail in your coffin" then looking horrified at the timing of their gaffe ... open mouth stick leg in. My reaction was to laugh and laugh, mind you somewhat hysterically but 23 years later, it's that memory that I don't mind recalling. Isn't it sometimes that morbid sense of humour that gets us through the worst times.
Hazel is living with Thyroid cancer, Augustus with Osteosarcoma and Isaac, eye cancer; they're courageous, funny, vulnerable and sad and still just regular teens with a shitty card draw. Gus is pretentious and many of Hazel and Gus's conversations are philosophical, metaphorical and yep pretentious ... is it realistic dialogue for intelligent 16 & 17 year olds with a small but concentrated window of life experience? ... probably but I'm not going to debate it.
What I do believe with all my heart is that little things often become the big things ... savour them.
What a slut time is. She screws everybody.
Without Pain, How Could We Know Joy? (This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.) ... how true, I love it!
In reality many people don't die big, some are a drop, others a splash, some ripples. It's human nature to want to mean something to someone but does existing automatically mean you leave a mark on the world?