The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
I almost missed out on reading this book. Mostly because I get put off reading things when they have been overhyped in my hearing, and sadly this tends to cover most books which become film adaptations. However, as I do private tutoring for teenagers, I decided it was time to get over myself a bit and engage with some stuff which was actually popular. This, along with the Hunger Games trilogy, was my first purchase towards this ends.
I had chosen wisely.
This is the first book of Green’s that I have read, but I very much doubt that it will be the last. His humour, wit and commentary on Tumblr had already made him a familiar presence in my little corner of the internet. His writing did not disappoint, and neither did his subject matter. This story was quite simply beautiful and inspiring. Not because it was about two teenagers battling illness, but because it was about two teenagers who were determined to LIVE. In so many ways. By reading books, talking about them, discussing them and loving them, but also by going off on a grand adventure way outside of their own comfort zone or what anybody thinks about their limits and abilities. I love the sheer life in these characters and their refusal to let anything get in the way of them living, because that’s what living should be about for anyone.
For my money, Hazel Grace and Augustus are inspirational not because of the way they meet with their diseases but because of the way they meet with life. They are so determined to go out and experience the world, for themselves as well as through literature, and their sense of urgency and immediacy, as well as their way of squeezing every last drop of happiness out of the existence they have together, is wonderful to read and heartbreaking for its tragic inevitable conclusion.
Young love and young sex, positively approached with responsibility and genuine love and passion, is always a pleasure to encounter in YA fiction. Without fear, mistakes, drink or drugs or any form of coercion clouding the issues, these two characters enter into a very sweet and poignient and yet still physical relationship. I still remember Judy Blume explaining why she deserved to write ‘Forever’, after her daughter begged her to write a story about two young people in love who decide to have sex, do it responsibly and safely and sensibly and who don’t meet with any life derailing tragedies, infections, unwanted pregnancies or judgement from their families and friends. Hazel Grace and Augustus claim all the same rights as teenagers, regardless of their circumstances, and in this they are wonderful role models to young readers, for reasons which have nothing to do with their battles against cancer.
I cannot recommend this book enough, no matter your age. Hazel and Augustus are the modern star crossed lovers, cursed by something far more tragic than a family feud and yet still overcoming those barriers to be together for all the time they can wrestle from fate’s grasp. It resonates with the immediacy, urgency and strength of all young love and for that reason, it holds what I consider to be a universal appeal.*[Got something to say? Submit to Project Shandy]*