Matilda Reviews: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

faultSummary:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Why I Read It:

Because everyone loves it, and because there’s a movie coming out!

My Thoughts:

I hoped for a lot from this book, but I expected not quite as much. I have a hard time trusting any book that has a remarkable 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads. I mean, that’s basically unheard of. Most of the Harry Potter books don’t even have that, and they’re perfect!

That being said, The Fault In Our Stars is a beautiful book. Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster are remarkable teenagers, if unrealistic. They struggle valiantly through their battles with cancer, speaking ironically and sarcastically about their suffering, quoting poetry and waxing poetic on literature and illness. They joke about cancer. (And about other things. They’re actually quite funny.) They scorn typical “cancer kid plots.”

And yet, The Fault is a pretty typical “cancer kid plot.” It is tragic, heartbreaking, and profoundly sad. There are a few unique adventures along the way. Augustus and Hazel do some traveling in search of Hazel’s favorite author. (I thought at first that this part of the book didn’t carry the plot very well, and then later on it was a bit heavy-handed. But I did enjoy their visit to the Anne Frank Haus, because I’ve been there myself and know firsthand how moving it is to stand in those rooms.) In the end, this book isn’t particularly unique; it’s just heartbreaking. In fact, The Fault may be the first book over which I’ve ever truly shed tears. I was glad that I was home alone as I was turning the final pages, because I was really crying. If you judge books based on the amount of emotional response they elicit, then you’ll probably love this one. (By the way, for a unique “cancer kid plot,” I recommend Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper.) 

Before I say this final bit, I have a disclaimer: I’m fortunate enough to be able to say I’ve never experienced cancer in the way that the families in this book experience cancer. So I in no way presume to know what it’s like; nor can I speak to the realism of Hazel and Augustus’s experiences. That being said, I appreciated that this book didn’t necessarily seek to find any “meaning” in the tragedy of cancer. Because I don’t know that there is any “meaning” in it. It’s just a terrible, unfair thing. But I did love the way the characters find meaning in their relationships, experiences, and  love for one another, no matter how short their time together may be. They find meaning in their own lives and in one another’s lives. And I think that is important.

All in all, this is a beautiful, moving book. If you like heartbreaking love stories, then this one is for you.

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