Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Fault in our Stars

     In a single word - AMAZING!  The Fault in our Stars by John Green is one of my favorite books of all time.  It is laugh-out-loud funny and sobbingly tragic within sentences of one another.
     The characters are some of the most believable I have ever read.  Hazel, Augustus, and Issac feel like friends I formed iron bonds through tragic circumstances, although the other characters were not as developed.  
     The dialogue was brilliant.  It held the beauty of Shakespeare, the simplicity of poetry, and the depth you only get from surviving a trip through Hell.
     The description of Spring in Amsterdam made me homesick for a place I have never been.
     The title refers to a line from Julius Caesar.  Cassius tells Brutus, "The Fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves..."  It is the perfect title for a story of three teenagers facing terminal cancer.
     Hazel starts her story on the day she meets Augustus at the cancer support group.  She has terminal thyroid cancer that makes her unable to breathe on her own.  Suffering from depression, her mom insists she go to therapy.  One of those dreaded events she does each week, until the day Augustus appears in the group.  Hazel does not want to fall in love and devastate any more people than she has to with her death, but she can't stop falling in love with a boy who metaphorically holds the object of death in his mouth but doesn't smoke it.
     Augustus has been in remission from Osteosarcoma since his leg was amputated.  He knows the risks he faces falling in love with Hazel; his last girlfriend Caroline died from cancer.  In fact, he can't stop staring at Hazel when they first meet because she looks so much like Hazel.  He knows that losing the person you love is a grenade going off inside, but he knows love means something in this world that loss and death cannot diminish.
     Isaac loses his eyesight from his own cancer, but through his loss he sees life and love more clearly than before.  Although Isaac's girlfriend Monica swears to love him forever, she breaks up with him the night before the surgery to remove his eyes.
     He rages to Hazel, "Always was a promise!  How can you just break the promise?"
     Hazel replies, "Sometimes people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them."
     "Right, of course.  But you keep the promise anyway.  That's what love is.  Love is keeping the promise anyway."
     Through his loss, he gives my favorite line of the book.  This is my new definition of love.
     It has been a long time since I read a book by choice and found myself underlining lines and passages that were so powerful I knew I would want to come back to reread them later.
     Although this book has teenagers as the main characters, the language and sexual scene make it inappropriate for some teenagers.  However, it did fit into the book and the characters' situations; it was not done gratuitously.             

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