“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” – Hazel, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
This book should come with a warning: Do Not Read in Public. You Will Cry. Yes, thanks to this book, I am that weird guy at the back of the bus, head buried in a book, sobbing. Needless to say I am a little more cautious about the content I choose to read on my morning commute to work. This one just got me, and boy did it get me good. I full on ugly cried during the last few chapters. Thankfully this time in the privacy and comfort of my own bedroom. Any book which evokes that kind of reaction in me...I simply must recommend. For me, that is the purpose of storytelling and creating art of any kind. You do it to connect with your audience, and to make them feel something. I wasn’t prepared for all the feels that this one had in store.
If by some chance you haven’t already read The Fault In Our Stars, it was published in January of 2012 by the phenomenal John Green. It was a #1 New York Times bestseller and has been praised endlessly, and rightfully so. Now some of you may be thinking “Yeah, but I’ve seen the movie, so there’s not much point in reading the book.” Incorrect, the movie and its awesome cast and soundtrack did an amazing job and I couldn’t have hoped for more. But as always, the book just has so much more to it. It has an insight into the characters that a movie just cannot achieve, unless it's like ten hours long. Trust me, it is worth the read. A little bit of trivia for you: If you’re a Shakespeare fan you may recognise the title. It is based on a direct quote by Cassius in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.
Cassius: “The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
This novel is beautifully narrated by Hazel, an intelligent, quick-witted sixteen year old girl who is living with cancer. It has spread to her lungs and having been pretty much terminal her entire life, she has begun to give up hope. Enter Augustus Waters, a charismatic seventeen year old amputee and cancer survivor. Augustus is every bit as sharp as Hazel. He lost one of his legs in a battle with osteosarcoma, but he doesn’t let it impact his palpable confidence. The pair cross paths at a Cancer Kid support group, which Hazel's parents have forced her into attending. Augustus and his bold spontaneity reignite a spark in Hazel, giving her another reason to fight through the pain and get up each morning. Here begins their precious little infinity together.
Their connection begins in the cutest of ways; they trade their favourite novels. How adorable. I love when someone shares their favourite book with me. It’s like getting a little glimpse into their soul. As you connect with the same words that have connected so deeply with the person that has given it to you, another level is added to the book. What a lovely way to get to know someone. Anyway that’s enough swooning from me. Hazel gives Augustus “An Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten. It is a book she strongly identifies with, about a young girl with cancer. Once Augustus is done reading the book he immediately contacts Hazel to voice his frustrations. The novel ends abruptly and mid-sentence, offering no conclusion or explanation. Hazel offers her theory as to why it ends as it does, but this has never been confirmed by the author and he has never published anything since. The ambiguous ending of this novel and its mysterious author set these two teens on a quest for answers. This mission brings them closer together and eventually sends them on a romantic getaway to Amsterdam. The answers they receive may not be what they had hoped for, but the journey to find them changes their lives dramatically and ignites one of the greatest love stories I have ever read.
I love every aspect of this book. It features some of the best dialogue I have ever read. It touched me deeply. There were so many lines where I just had to stop mid-page and think WOW. I'm not gonna lie to you, this story is heart-breaking, but it is also hugely inspiring and very hopeful. It’s bittersweet, funny, insightful, intelligent, thought provoking, raw, and painfully beautiful. Just like life. It has everything. So I urge you to give it a read. Although learn from my mistake and maybe give it a miss on public transport. Well that’s my recommendation for this week. It has been a pleasure as always. I look forward to gushing over another book with you next week. Until then, may your days be filled with peace, love & poetry.
“As he read I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once.”