Every now and then you come across a book that’s brutal honesty has you sitting there and nodding along in agreement. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is that book for me. Having read and loved his first novel, Looking For Alaska, I was keen to read some more. I was drawn to The Fault In Our Stars because it was about cancer.
Brief plot overview: 16-year-old Hazel has terminal (what started as thyroid) cancer that is currently under control due to an experimental (and entirely fictional) drug, Phalanxifor. Much to her annoyance, she is made to attend Cancer Support Group, where people sit around and say inspirational things about their battle. Then Augustus Waters comes along, a 17-year-old amputee (thanks to osteosarcoma), and everything changes. I won’t say more as I really want you to go and read it.
What draws me to this kind of book is that everyone knows someone who has had cancer. But unless you are close to them and their situation, many don’t seem to realise that no matter how strong a front the patient presents, sometimes, they would be very happy for it to all be over.
Just because cancer is all around, it doesn’t make it a subject that is talked about openly as, for the most part, I still think people struggle with what to say, they don’t want to accidentally offend. People walk on egg shells around cancer. One of the many reasons I loved this book is Green didn’t do that. He came out and spoke the horrible truths that come with a cancer diagnosis. He wrote about the fact that not every one “fights a noble fight”, quite often they are bitter towards their diagnosis, and why shouldn’t they be? Green shows that sometimes, it’s OK to be annoyed at the hand life dealt you. That it’s OK to be angry at the unfairness of your situation. That it’s OK to be upset that you never get to grow old.
But he also teaches to cherish the moments that you do have. That love, no matter how fleeting it may be or how much it hurts to lose it, is always worth it. That you may not leave as big a mark as you would have liked on the world, but to some, losing you is the biggest pain they have ever experienced, meaning that you do mean something and your loss will be acutely felt.
I don’t remember the last time a book moved me to tears the way The Fault In Our Stars did. I had to actually stop reading a few times as I couldn’t see through the tears. It could be because the story hit a bit close to home for me. But it also had everything to do with the fact that Green wrote the characters in such a way, that I felt like I knew them, that Hazel and Augustus were my friends and I cared what happened to them. I connected with them.
I also love the humour in which Green writes The Fault In Our Stars. The way he cleverly turns a phrase is enough to keep me reading his books forever.
Seriously, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest library or book shop and get this book. It is now on my list of “favourite books”. But seriously, READ IT NOW!!!!!!
Picture of book cover found here.