The review you’ve all been waiting for. (Not really.) (Maybe?)
First of all, I need to shout out to my best friend and book-addiction-enabler Caitlin for not only buying me this book, but buying me a signed copy. Woo!
Caitlin is not the only person responsible for getting me to read TFIOS, though. My dear friend Caryn has urged me for months to pick it up, and I’m so glad she did!
Here’s a quick summary:
Hazel Grace has thyroid cancer, as she says, “with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs. And I’m doing okay.” (5) Hazel meets Augustus Waters at a Support Group meeting, where he has come to encourage their mutual friend Isaac, who has cancer in his eye. Augustus himself is a cancer survivor, having had osteosarcoma, which claimed his leg. Despite Augustus’s hamartia and Hazel’s prolific vocabulary—or perhaps because of these qualities—the two bond over Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, by author Peter Van Houten.
What transpires is one of the sweetest love stories ever, during which Augustus uses his Wish to take Hazel and her mom to Amsterdam to meet the illustrious Peter Van Houten. They could not be more disappointed by the obnoxious, lazy author, who refuses to tell Hazel how the story ends for the main character. But they are still tied to him, and he to them, by the extraordinary book that he wrote.
I won’t give away the ending (aren’t you proud of me?), even though you can see it coming from a mile away. But that doesn’t diminish the beauty of the story. Hazel, Augustus, and Peter Van Houten all struggle with the side effects of dying—life itself, depression, cancer, unrealized potential, unacquired fame. They all have trouble coming to terms with the fact that life is not fair. Death, though, is unequivocally fair: everyone dies. And yet they learn that life is worth living for the privilege of loving others.
As Augustus tells Isaac: “You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!” (272)
In an exercise to write eulogies for each other, Augustus writes Peter Van Houten about Hazel: “Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either. People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad, Van Houten. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm.” (312)
The tragic lesson: “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.” (313)
I’m warning you now: You. Will. Cry. Reading it, I was just reminded of how blessed I am to love Andrew so deeply. Being so close to him hurts sometimes, but he is so worth it.
With such a fantastically poignant plot written in the most intelligent yet accessible prose, it’s no wonder that John Green has acquired a wildly supportive group of fans. And he has a popular Vlog on Youtube with his brother, Hank.
I promise you, you will not regret reading this fantastic story. And I’m definitely going to be reading more of John Green’s books in the future!
Now enjoy this equally fantastic and appropriate song from Pink and Nate Ruess:
Have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet? What did you think?