Thursday, October 17, 2013


So I think I'm probably the last person in the country to read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

And to be honest, that was on purpose because I knew it was going to hurt. 

I was right.

Excruciating. And because I have children, beyond that, even. And rife with the fear that just reading it might give the wrong idea to the gods of health and that one day I might be the parents in the book.

I hope I don't sound shallow when I say that. I'm especially sensitive to sounding shallow right now because Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters are the least shallow people you might ever meet. And the smartest. They inspire a lot of adjectives they themselves would hate: brave, inspiring, resilient. They meet in a support group in the Literal Heart of Jesus, fall in love, and use Gus's dying Wish to travel to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Houten, who wrote a book they love (another cancer story). They're determined to get answers from Van Houten, who ends his only book with too many loose ends. Van Houten disappoints them terribly, but they rally because they're in love and together and alive. But of course we know because they're both terminally ill that this won't always be the case.

Which is why I mostly tried to remind myself as I read that my purpose here was to read good books and be a better writer. And learn more about things I know little about. Because make no mistake, I am LUCKY that my personal experience with cancer is limited. So far. (Still trying not to piss off the gods of health)

I don't think I can heap any more praise on John Green's head than has already been heaped, and I don't think it's necessary. But I do think I need to acknowledge, to myself and whoever else is still on the haven't-read-it-yet precipice, that it's really, really worth reading. It's a lesson in creating characters you can't get off your mind, show-don't-tell, and voice.


The one criticism I had was that after Augustus dies, I didn't want to keep reading. I almost wanted the book to end mid sentence the way their book, Van Houten's IMPERIAL AFFLICTION, did. Of course, that would have been predictable, but still.

We know Hazel is going to die, and when we discover that Augustus is also going to be "taken out of the rotation", it's just a countdown to the end of this sad, beautiful love.

Perhaps there was something insightful I missed here, but I couldn't appreciate the reappearance of Peter Van Houten, especially at Gus's funeral. I didn't think it added anything to Hazel's process of coping with her loss or her ongoing life as a Professional Sick Person - even the knowledge that she reminded the alcoholic Van Houten of his dead-from-cancer daughter.

Anyone else have issues with the final Van Houten scenes?


1 comment:

  1. Heather, so glad for your project. I look forward to it - and I plan to read the book.
    Susie Wiles