The Fault In Our Stars is a must-read, and I don’t use that term lightly.
There are some books that simply must be experienced, and this is one of them. From now on, when anyone asks me for a book recommendation, this book will be at the top of my list. I say this not because it changed my life—it didn’t. But, as an avid reader, this book resonated with me so deeply that it will forever be ingrained as a part of my existence.
The story is all too real. A sixteen year old with terminal cancer meets a contemporary who happens to have been cured of his cancer. They hit it off immediately, and she introduces him to a book that she loves, and he falls in love with it, too, as well as the girl. Of course, falling in love with someone who has terminal cancer is a complicated situation at best. Before long they take it upon themselves to reach out to the author of their favorite book, and the result is not exactly what they expected. Furthermore, as one would imagine with a book featuring cancer afflicted characters, heartbreak ensues, but not necessarily in the way most readers predict.
Green’s teenagers are precocious, witty, and downright hilarious. This is a difficult juxtaposition for many readers because these characters, for the most part, do not expect to live normal lives or, in some cases, to live at all. It feels inappropriate to laugh at things these characters say and do, but I think that’s the point Green is trying to make. Life is horrible, wonderful, and everything in between, and when we’re not crying, we’re laughing. The teens pull no punches, they accept their reality, and they force the reader to make peace with their burden as well.
Green has written a book unlike any other I’ve ever read, and I’ve read quite a few. At one moment he had me rolling, the next he had me nearly in tears. The Fault In Our Stars never felt completely realistic only because the characters—Hazel, Augustus, Isaac, and both sets of parents—were too charismatic to be real. They leapt off the page and demanded to become a part of my everyday life. I struggled with this, because I don’t know anyone quite as charming, funny, or quick on their feet as these characters. But, that’s also what makes them so utterly lovable. They are not real, and so they are allowed to say the exact right thing at the exact right time. They are welcome to charm the heck out of us. A book like this is meant to be magical in many ways, and tragic in others. After all, nearly all of the characters are made to suffer, so why shouldn’t they get to go down as some of the most dynamic literary figures to have ever existed upon the page? Why can’t they be the coolest kids in the room?
I am a married thirty-six year old father of two, an English teacher, an author, and I generally don’t read much young adult literature. With all that being said, The Fault In Our Stars is now counted among my favorite books and I urge you to read it as soon as possible.