I’m not sure how I missed John Green until now. A student recommended his books, and I began with The Fault in Our Stars. It’s been a few weeks since I read it (I’m, ahem, a bit behind on my reviews), and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve worked my way through all of John Green’s books at my public library, except for Looking for Alaska, which is always checked out and has a waiting list.
The Fault in Our Stars focuses on 16-year-old Hazel who has terminal cancer but whose life has been extended by a miracle drug. Hazel’s mother tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy in Hazel’s world by forcing her out of the house and into college classes and a cancer support group for teens. Hazel doesn’t necessarily buy in to the whole idea of the support group, but she befriends a boy named Isaac there, and the two of them spend a good deal of time rolling their eyes together. At one meeting, Isaac brings a friend, Gus, who takes a liking to Hazel pretty quickly. Hazel has a difficult time dealing with Gus’s attention and giving in to her feelings for him; to her parents she confesses that she feels like a “time bomb” because she knows she has a limited amount of time left and wants to keep from hurting other people when she goes. This is especially difficult with Gus because he has already lost one girlfriend to cancer. Eventually, though, the two bond over Hazel’s favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, which is also about a girl with (of course) cancer.
Obviously, this isn’t what you’d call a feel-good book, but it feels genuine. The characters are a bit too wise at times, but they are kids who’ve had to grow up fast, and it’s nice to read a novel in which the teenagers aren’t vapid morons and the parents are good people who try hard to love and support their children the best way they know how. I’m really glad I picked up this book and finally found my way to John Green; his books are the kind of books I’d want my own kid to read if he were a bit older.