If you haven’t yet read John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars I really must urge you to. Reading it made me split my sides laughing and nearly broke my heart in two places.
The story is about a girl called Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen year old with advanced cancer who meets Augustus Waters at a support group. He has lost a leg through cancer but is healthy again and is there to support his friend Isaac whose rare eye cancer means that he is about to have surgery that will make him blind.
Now let me stop you there, this is not a cancer book as Green is keen to remind us. This is not about cancer and what people can’t do, it is about living. At the start of the book Hazel is shutting herself away watching tv with her parents apart from when her mother makes her go to the support group. Life has lost a little of its meaning and it is through her friendship with Augustus (and Isaac) that she comes to live life again and fall in love.
The relationships between the characters in the book are fantastically well observed. It says a lot about teenagers and those who have grown old beyond their years through things they have had to deal with. It also has a lot to say about the relationship between parents and their children and just how far a parent will go to support a sick child.
This book is relentlessly cheerful and keeps up your spirits about the world. Augustus reminds us all that ‘the world is not a wish granting factory’ and the story sticks to this throughout, the reader doesn’t get the happy ending that they expect, John Green is far too realistic for that. Your wishes will not be granted but there is beauty to be found even when they are not.
This book is not what you expect. Hazel shares her favourite book with Augustus but it is a novel which stops mid sentence and so Hazel wants to know what happens to the characters before she dies. Augustus helps her and even gives up his Wish to take Hazel to meet the author but this doesn’t go according to plan either. (No spoilers.)
This is an excellently written novel and demonstrates an extraordinary view of people and how we deal with the subject of cancer. It is not a sad book or a book about illness it is a book about not wasting a day and being grateful for whatever you do have. It will make you laugh and cry and you will most likely be very glad you read it.
I would also recommend that once you have read the book you look up the inspiration for it. It was inspired by a real teenage girl.