I’d like to introduce you all to the first book and the only book so far to make me cry. I’d like you to know that I didn’t cry the silent type of crying in which tears just fill your eyes and drop of their own volition, rather I was racked by sobs and my heart was broken over two fictional characters. Of course there was the ensuing shame that is felt after crying over a movie or song or book, basically any unreal fears or stories. This is the first work of John Green’s that I have read. I’d heard about him and at that time in my life I’d been partial to female authors, feeling that they understood me better, but then having stumbled upon the miracle that is Khaled Hosseini and The Kite Runner, I figured the boys weren’t all that terrible. John Green did not disappoint.
The story is narrated by sixteen year old Hazel Grace Lancaster who is a cancer patient living on borrowed time. At her mother’s urging, she joins the cancer support group where she meets and falls for cool, smart talking Augustus Waters. Theirs is a love filled with shared philosophies and literature, melancholy and euphoria. A heartbreaking story of illness, accepting the alignment of your stars, perseverance and hope. I developed a greater appreciation for the strength of terminally ill people and their families. I learned how much many sick people just want to be treated as normal, not looked at with constant pity. This book shows the power of books and how much they can keep a person going.
I couldn’t help but fall in love with the character of Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters. Such a charismatic and witty young man. So alive, so wise and so giving. I don’t blame Hazel for falling in love with him. Hazel’s intelligence and inner strength is also very admirable and I’m not sure how brave I’d be in her shoes. That’s something else this book made me think about. Cancer. So unpredictable and it so easily consumes people, their loved ones and their lives in general. Very few diseases scare me the way cancer does. I’m really hoping that researchers find a way to at least control it soon. I developed a new appreciation for oncologists and all the nurses who work with them. I appreciate their love for their patients and the time and emotional energy they put into their work.
If you’re not afraid to cry, you should read this book and if you’re afraid to cry, you should read this book, it will show you that there are scarier things in life. My favorite quotes;
I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.
It seemed like forever ago, like we’d had this brief but still infinite forever. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities
That’s the thing about pain, Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. It demands to be felt.
“That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it—or my observation of it—is temporary?”
Osteosarcoma sometimes takes a limb to check you out. Then, if it likes you, it takes the rest.
“Right, that’s why I said tomorrow,” he said. “I want to see you again tonight. But I’m willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m serious,” he said.
Worry is yet another side effect of dying.
“Oh,” he said. And then after a second, “Caroline is no longer suffering from personhood.”
She seemed to be mostly a professional sick person, like me, which made me worry that when I died they’d have nothing to say about me except that I fought heroically, as if the only thing I’d ever done was Have Cancer.
“Nah, nostalgia is a side effect of dying,
People talk about the courage of cancer patients, and I do not deny that courage. I had been poked and stabbed and poisoned for years, and still I trod on. But make no mistake: In that moment, I would have been very, very happy to die.
The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention.
This book showed me that sickness causes people to mature faster than they normally would, because that is the only way I can explain the reason for the depth of Hazel and Gus’ love. I hope you guys read this book, it truly is amazing and if you’ve already read it, kudos.
In case you haven’t already guessed, I’d give this book 5 stars out of 5.
PS I hear, it’s being made into a movie for sometime next year. Great. More tears.