The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I saw John Green speak during the Children’s Book and Author Breakfast at BookExpo America last year. During his intelligent, heartfelt and witty remarks, he discussed not only the people in his life who were inspirations for his book but also his passion for stories and why we are so emotionally connected to them. Luckily, Green and his publisher were generous enough to provide a copy of Green’s latest book to those in attendance at that breakfast, so I was able to indulge further in my curiosity of this author.
In The Fault in Our Stars, sixteen-year-old Hazel Lancaster has terminal cancer. Although she’s on tumor-shrinking medication, her diagnosis is still grave. When her doctor convinces her to join a support group to help cope with her diagnosis, she meets Augustus Waters, another cancer patient, and the two fall in love. Hazel and Augustus bond while comparing cancer experiences, discussing a novel about cancer with a mysterious and incomplete ending, and a dream trip to Amsterdam that doesn’t turn out as expected.
On the surface, this book might seem like a “cancer book” where the characters are all-consumed and defined by their disease. And in a way it is, but what’s so refreshing is that the characters seemed to bond over things other than their cancer. But I couldn’t help wondering if Augustus claimed to like An Imperial Affliction just to get Hazel to like him. Hazel’s vulnerability had me worried for her safety and happiness. I was afraid that she would be quick to fall in love with Augustus for loving the same book and was skeptical as to the genuineness of his interest.
I was also little wary of the authenticity of the love between Hazel and Augustus. I just didn’t see the connection and thought maybe they mistook their close friendship for love. They’re so young and fell for each other so fast that maybe it wasn’t “the real thing” like they wanted it to be. But then I thought about their rare emotional connection because of their experiences with cancer. Even if their relationship isn’t what they thought it was, they might as well have fun and love each other while they have the chance. They have little experience with love and their lives will probably be cut short so they might as well embrace their feelings for each other, whatever they may be.
As a coming of age story, The Fault in Our Stars is more than a book about cancer or falling in love. It’s about accepting who you are and allowing other people love you for it. We learn that dreams can be fulfilled but may not to turn out to be all we imagined, but a disappointment instead. Nothing in life turns out the way you think it will.
The Truth in Our Stars was published in 2012 by Dutton Books. I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher at BookExpo America 2012.