Hazel Grace Lancaster is a teenager living on borrowed time. She has terminal thyroid cancer that has metastasized to her lungs, but a miracle drug has prolonged her life thus far. How she chooses to spend her time rereading her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, for the dozenth time and watching marathons of “America’s Next Top Model” begins to concern Hazel’s mother, so at her insistence, Hazel grudgingly attends a cancer support group. There she meets Augustus Waters, a handsome, former basketball star who is in remission for bone cancer, and her life is forever changed.
Falling for Augustus is an unexpected gift for Hazel, but it comes with a great amount of hesitation. She worries about the impact her death will have on the ones she’ll be leaving behind. She knows it’s impossible to spare her parents from the pain, but she tries to minimize the amount of damage she causes Augustus by refusing to start a relationship with him. She likens herself to a grenade that will destroy the lives of the ones she loves, but she fails to realize that all humans are all like grenades in each other’s lives. We can’t help but influence and impact each other. When we lose someone who has made a large impact, it does cause pain, but it doesn’t make sense not to love someone just because it might hurt them in the long run.
One of the points John Green drives home in “The Fault in Our Stars” is that nothing in life is permanent, but that doesn’t make it less important or special. Augustus has trouble with this concept. He wants his life to mean something; he wants to leave something of permanence behind, a scar. But their love story teaches us that there is a profound beauty in the temporary. No love story can last forever and theirs is no exception. It only exists only as long as they live, and that is dictated by something completely out of their control. But it’s no less beautiful because it was short-lived.
I read this book in January, and I’m afraid time hasn’t made it any easier to express everything this book meant to me. The achingly beautiful prose (“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations”), combined with characters who become so beloved, mixed with the special brand of wit and humor that John Green brings to all his novels makes this a truly exceptional book. Despite all the discussion of cancer, death, and dying, at its heart, “The Fault in Our Stars” is a love story. Hazel and Augustus are so amazing and so real, and John Green did a wonderful job focusing on their personalities and relationship and not their respective illnesses. They aren’t defined by their cancer.
I ran the gamut of emotions while reading this, laughing, crying, laughing through tears. It was honest, funny, heartbreaking, exhilarating, and immediately became one of my favorite books of all time. This is a story that everyone should and must read.
“You read a book and it fills you with this evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: Slowly, and then all at once.”
“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the voice, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know that the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
“I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”