Thursday, January 23, 2014
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves..."
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Hazel thinks of herself as a grenade, ready to go off at any moment, inevitably hurting those who love her.
Augustus thinks Helen is the love of his life.
The story of teenagers with terminal cancer in love sounds like a real downer, and tears will fall as you read this book, but the story is actually uplifting and strangely comforting.
I have been uninspired by the book I have been reading for some weeks. I am over half way through the 770 pages, but the characters are not nice and I am having trouble finishing it. So I opened up this Kindle book just because of the title, and found it was just what I needed--an engaging book with great characters, insight into the human condition, and an emotional connection to the story.
For awards, praise and more here is the author's web page:
For a good plot summery go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fault_in_Our_Stars.
Cancer took both my parents and an uncle. I was with my dad daily during his last months in the hospital. Hard as it is to lose someone to cancer when they are 52 or 57 or 78 it is even harder when a child developers cancer. Likely environmental issues took the lives of my family members--smoking, exposure to toxins or environmental pollutants.
But the teenagers in this book have rare forms of cancer that are not related to anything external or environmental or to choices they have made. Augustus appears to be in the 80% survival group, while Hazel is buying time with an experimental drug. Facing death before age 20 creates a real existential crisis. But these kids also tell it as it is; tired of the way well people treat them they tell each other the hard facts. They bandy about witticisms and are irreverent to their disease.
"The inexorable truth is this: They might be glad to have me around, but I was the alpha and the omega of my parent's suffering."
"Most parents don't really know their children."
"Nostalgia is a side effect of dying."
This may not be how teenagers you know talk. One criticism of the book is that these kids sound awfully erudite.
"People always get used to beauty, though."
Still, I love the little epigrams and thoughts that appear throughout the story. It makes one think. The dying who know their time is limited see the beauty whereas the rest of us are focused on money or our career or our problems. Is this true? For some I know it is. But I am challenged to become more aware of the beauty of life, now.
"Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you."
Grief comes to all, it is a part of living. We all will face death, the loss of our beloved and the loss of our own lives.
"Really, I'd never been anything but terminal."
That could be said of us all.
This love story is coming to film this year. So it is a good time to read the book.