Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.)
Hazel, our heroine, is dying of cancer. When she ever-so-reluctantly attends a cancer support group, she meets Augustus Waters. After these two meet, well, both have reason to want to live. Augustus definitely loves her and wants to be with her. She's slightly more reluctant because she gets caught up thinking about the future, how there can be no future, since she could end up dying in a matter of weeks, months, whatever. She would rather hurt him now--by refusing to be with him--than hurt him later by her death. But a few things happen to change her mind, to cause her to open her heart and mind to living life in the present.
It's a bittersweet romance. But bittersweet in a good way. Much of the novel does deal with serious subjects--like death, dying, questioning the 'meaning' of life, the 'point' of it all. But it's not without its lighter moments--like the lonely swing set. It's a sad novel, to be sure, but it's not without hope.
I liked this one. I'm not sure that I LOVED it. (Peter Van Houten annoyed me greatly even when he wasn't being super-cranky. I didn't find his book, his writing, oh-so-wonderful like Hazel does. I thought he was obnoxious from the start.) But I definitely found this one worth reading. The book is very well-written. And the dialogue between these two was great.
Read The Fault In Our Stars:
- If you love John Green, if you've enjoyed his previous books
- If you are looking for a bittersweet all-too-realistic, all-too-heartbreaking romance
- If you are looking for a good YA book with plenty of heart (don't mistake heart for cute and sweet though)
"I'm in love with you," he said quietly.
"Augustus," I said.
"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."
"Augustus," I said again, not knowing what else to say. (153)
"What am I at war with? My cancer. And what is my cancer? My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me. They're made of me as surely as my brain and my heart are made of me. It is a civil war, Hazel Grace, with a predetermined winner." (216)
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews