Written by: John Green
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Sometimes I like to cry. No real good reason. Just cause. I have a collection of books and movies that get the tears started. For movies it is tragic love stories (Solomon and Gaenor, Kama Sutra A Tale of Love, the Notebook, Evening) and apparently the same goes for books. What is it about the tragic love story that we just eat up. They are sad. They make me cry (Eponine in Les Mis, Miss Saigon’s Kim and Chris). A lot. But I completely eat them up. They are my excuse.
Now I knew author John Green and already had a little bitty crush on him via Mental Floss and Nerdfighters. But for some reason I just never got around to reading his books. Not sure why. Everyone talks about the Fault in Our Stars, so I should probably get around to reading it. So I did. It was my lunch break book where I would hole up in my office and read to my heart’s content. Which is great until you find yourself sobbing in your office and your coworker thinks that something is seriously wrong. Nope just a book, you say as you emerge puffy and red eyed. Damn book. Now the fact that the book made me cry should not surprise you. It is after all a book about kids with cancer.
Hazel Grace knows that she is dying, maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but eventually her lungs are going to give out. She tries not to get close to anyone as she feels like grenade, one day she will explode and obliterate those around her. Then she meets Augustus Waters at her Cancer Kid Support Group who apparently not only finds her oxygen tank sexy, but her as well. They bond over the book An Imperial Affliction and discover that sometimes, when you least expect it, love happens.
Things I loved: Miss Hazel Grace, our intrepid narrator is awesome. She is snarky. She is honest. She has her faults, but you love her anyway. She is a fangirl and funny and thoughtful and when she loves…oh dear god. More than that I can relate to her. I could relate to pushing people away or having people distance themselves from you. I didn’t have cancer. I was just an air force brat and never around for long. Why get to know people if you are only going to be there for six months.
All of the characters matter from Hazel’s best friend who shows how quite often the living distance themselves from the dying, parents who do their best to give their children everything and how children cannot fathom the loss or understand what their parents are going through. Gus, Isaac, Van Houten…they all matter. They all have something to say. I cannot imagine what it is like to have a terminal illness, to be choked with sympathy from others. But somehow I can understand Hazel’s resentment. It is a heavy thing to deal with.
Speaking of character love…I love Gus. I love him because even in the shadow of death and all of the guilt and loss and hopelessness that Hazel sometimes felt, he gave her a reason to live. Not just because they fell in love, but he showed her how much beauty there is in the world. Living is worth it. Plus he woos Hazel with Max Mayhem one-liners and a gentle grace that is just awesome.
How much love can you fit in a short life? On one hand you will always be forever in the honeymoon period, that space where you still get butterflies every time you meet. This is the one great love of your life. This is it. The one. The one that makes your heart all aflutter. The one you swear will last forever. There won’t be fights about dirty laundry or unpaid bills. It won’t get stagnant. But it also won’t last forever. You won’t get to grow old together, to realize that sometimes those stupid fights make things stronger. And that relationships are hard work, but worth it. So so worth it. There won’t be a wedding or domestic bliss. There won’t be kids or furry kids to spend your time with. That is the part that just guts me. Too soon. Not enough time. Then again, do we ever get enough time even if our bodies aren’t riddled with cancer. Isn’t it better to stuff every glorious moment into each day because tomorrow this is it. There are no second chances. Time wastes you, so you better well use it.
Things I didn’t love so much: It made me cry. Like heaving sobs, thank goodness my office door is closed sobs. And I was expecting it damn it. Seriously the feels. Damn it. But I wouldn’t trade away one salty tear. It was worth it. Even if a coworker had to check in on me and make sure everything was okay. Yep. Fine, just a book. Damn book. Glorious book.
Buy or Borrow: Buy. I am glad I got to glimpse and share Hazel and Gus’s story – their love, their loss, their strength, their weakness, and the honesty of it all. You only get one chance to live, so you better do something with it.
Part of: Stand Alone
Also Recommended: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Looking for Alaska by John Green and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.
4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks