Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars - Book Review

The Fault In Our Stars is the story of a 16 year old girl named Hazel who happens to have "a touch" of terminal cancer. However, The Fault In Our Stars not merely her cancer story, it is the story of her weird and wonderful life as a bright and quirky teenager who falls in love with an equally bright and quirky boy. At the beginning of the story her protective mother encourages Hazel to get a life, to make friends, to not just sit around the house with her parents reading and watching endless episodes of America's Next Top Model. In order to get our out of the house, her mother makes Hazel attend a weekly youth support group for cancer patients where one happenstance day Hazel meets "hot guy" Augustus and their lives both change.

The movie version of The Fault In Our Stars stars none other than Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort of Divergent fame (yes, they played brother and sister in that movie, but let's not make it weird) and is set to come out on June 8th. Apparently it's going to be a tear jerker (as well as inspiring, quite like the book), so bring your tissues!

Image Courtesy of IBTimes

For a sneak peak, you can watch the trailer here: Inside Movies 

Honestly, I cannot recommend this book more. If you haven't read it, forget this review and run immediately to your bookstore. You won't regret it.

What I loved most about this book was it did not take the typical approach that many stories do about kids with cancer.  It did not focus on those with cancer or those dying as vicitims, but centered instead on their lives and their personhood. It directly combated the notion that children with cancer are always brave and eternally sunshiny, a perception I think doesn't show them as people, but instead as martyrs. Instead, The Fault In Our Stars shows Hazel, Augustus, and the other characters in their entirety... as people. They get angry, sad, grumpy, and negative as everyone does. And it never takes away from their moments bravery, their positivity, and their insight.

Cancer was a part of Hazel and Augustus' life, but it was not the most important thing about them by far. Instead their intellegience, their quirkiness, their enjoyable sense of humour, and their love all shone much brighter than the fact that they both had cancer. The Fault In Our Stars is more than a book about cancer, it's about two teenagers finding themselves and discovering each other. It's about falling deeply in love.

On pretty much every page of this novel, there are little nuggets of wisdom that you can just feel in the pit of your stomach are true. It was as if someone far more eloquent that I am took some of the simpliest and deepest truths I have and put them perfectly on the page. Little gems like "The world is not a wish-granting factory" or "Pain demands to be felt" are so powerful, especially in the course of the story, that they will not soon be forgotten after you leave off reading.

Lastly, one of the other things I really appreciated about this book, especially as a lover of literature and an English major, was John Green's author's note.
There are so many reasons that people are drawn to works of fiction. There's a reason we read. We connect so deeply with the sentiments authors write, it doesn't matter if they are directly taken from true life or are entirely made up, the importance is in the fact that they speak to us... that they tell our truths, that we learn from them, that we work out some of our own personal issues through them, and that they heal us in some way.

And when we share a book that we love (or a song, or a piece of art, or a story, and so on) with someone it is like sharing a piece of ourselves.

Keep reading!

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