With a heartbreaking story and lovable, unforgettable characters, The Fault In Our Stars is a hard book to put down. The writing is both sad and humorous, and above all, genuine.
My roommate was diagnosed with cancer the third week of our first year of college. Being 18 years old and not knowing a thing about cancer, I asked her what she expected from me. She was easy to please; she wanted support but mostly laughter. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a novel about teens with cancer. It brought back many memories of the years we spent as roommates. In an interview I read with Green, he commented that during his book tour he had teens with cancer tell him that he “gets them” like other adults can’t; he understands their sense of humor and their anxieties.
Green’s main characters are just trying to be normal teenagers while dealing with a devastating disease. Hazel and Augustus, the two primary characters in the book, meet at a teen cancer support group where they are trying to navigate the uncertain world of cancer and mortality while coping with the normal aspects of adolescence. Both of them have been in and out of school and hospitals and are not really sure of their roles as student/friend/patient. Not only are they going through their awkward teen years, but because of their illness, they are also pariahs among their peers. Augustus utilizes humor to cope with his disease. Hazel finds that she needs the humor. Their dialogue is snarky and irreverent and they laugh at things that are actually quite sad. There is even a humorous anecdote about Make-A-Wish.
As a parent, the book was heartbreaking. Both Hazel and Augustus’ parents are trying to cope the best way they can. They take their cues from their children and try to understand their children’s humor, but it isn’t easy. I felt so sad and helpless when reading about their appointments, treatments, hospitalizations, etc. For parents of teens with cancer, this book sheds light on how some teens deal with their disease, painful as it may be.
I couldn’t put this book down. I loved the characters and I needed to see what was going to happen next. I wanted them all to live happily ever after, but that wasn’t going to happen. Sadly, it doesn’t happen in real life either, even to a beloved roommate.