End of Week 3 – The Fault in Our Stars
February 15, 2013
I’m sure this will come of no surprise to those that have been reading this week’s Readarama title – The Fault in Our Stars – along with me, but I have been extremely emotional all week. So, pass the tissues and I’ll tell you all about this week’s reading experience…*sob*
The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by Hazel Grace, a 16 year old girl with terminal cancer which she has been battling since she was 13 and whose ‘lungs suck at being lungs’. Hazel has been suffering from depression, which she describes as a ‘side effect of dying’, and so has been forced by her mother and her doctor to go to a Cancer Children Support Meeting. Hazel hates the patronising support group at first until she meets, fellow cancer patient, the impulsive Augustus Waters who dramatically changes her life.
I should point out that this isn’t a misery novel, or a novel about cancer where a girl needs to be saved. As John Green said at The Fault in Our Stars tour, he wanted to write a strong female character that didn’t need to submit, or have a hero swoop in and save her. Hazel’s strength is clear from the beginning as she accepts her cancer with the most maturity and strength of all the characters in the novel – it is her over-protective parents and the people that surround her that seem unable to accept it, much to her annoyance.
It’s hard to write about The Fault in Our Stars without spoiling it for those that haven’t read it yet. If you’ve read the book and want to find out more about the writing process, and why significant events were written the way they were, then head on over to John Green’s website or his Tumblr dedicated to answering questions around The Fault in Our Stars – but only head there if you’ve read the book or you’ll be spoiled.
What I can say about The Fault in Our Stars though is that John Green manages to confront cancer with endless wit and a refreshing approach to the huge moral questions that he addresses, such as: Will I be missed? Will I leave a mark? Will I be remembered?
Although I cried many a time when reading The Fault in Our Stars, it’s easy to see that John Green intended this to be a comedy. He mentioned at the book’s tour that he tried to write The Fault in Our Stars many times when he was working in a children’s hospice. Instead of writing about the children, however, he’d write about himself and construct the novel around a member of the nursing staff who he would inevitably fall in love with and not focus on the key issue – teenagers with cancer. He finally managed to put pen to paper and write the book for his readers – and not for his own satisfaction – after meeting Esther, a young nerdfighter who was suffering from cancer and who sadly died in 2010.
The bittersweet romance of Hazel and Augustus is a joy to read and you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at the book’s comic moments that almost literally leap from the page. John Green approaches the subject of death and what constitutes a full and well-lived life in an honest and touching voice, whilst keeping his characters strikingly real. In The Fault in Our Stars, as well as in the others of John Green’s novels that I have read: Will Grayson Will Grayson, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines, he manages to write without being patronising on an intellectual level and in a language that a younger audience will immediately grasp. Through this distinctive voice, he made me fall in love with both Hazel and Augustus, and he made emotionally invested in their battles with cancer.
I urge you to go out and pick up this book – whatever age you are. I’m glad that I finally got round to reading The Fault in Our Stars and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s a book that has managed to change my outlook on mortality, and ability to accept what life throws at you.
Did you read The Fault in Our Stars? Let me know in the comments below. Remember, if you’re yet to pick up this book you can get 50% off it’s purchase over on Penguin.co.uk, and 25% off all the titles that we’ve featured so far!