Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

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As promised, I am working through a reading list, and will be reviewing them as I read them. I’m starting this little project with all the can-do attitude I have, and I hope (very sincerely and earnestly), that I’ll finish this project. I don’t want to let too much time lapse between each book on the list, because I’m afraid I might get demotivated. However, sometimes after a good book, you suffer from a Book Hangover. That’s when you need some time to recover from the literary world you have just left.

I am not ashamed to admit that even though I am in my late twenties, I have read quite a few Young Adult books. They often deal with the same themes as “serious” books, but they are easy to read. And sometimes, all you want is a book that doesn’t give you a headache. And that’s okay. The first book that I read, was The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene. Even though The Fault In Our Stars is technically a Young Adult novel, I really do feel like any person could enjoy it, and all of us could learn something from it.

What an emotional rollercoaster. Gosh, I was crying throughout the book, in various levels of intensity of the “ugly cry”. This is not a book to read if you’re looking for a lighthearted and fun read. It’s a serious read, even though it’s not long.

The two main characters in the book are Hazel and Augustus. They both are living through the tragedy that is adolescent cancer. Both are teenagers, trying to get by in a world where they kind of feel like outsiders. She is an amazingly geeky and intelligent girl, but is very insecure about her role in her family and social circle, weary of being a burden. She shuts herself out from the act of “living life”. Augustus is the typical American jock boy. He’s fun, energetic, dreamy and positive. Regardless of the struggles he has had to endure, he keeps himself strong. Their paths cross, and that’s where the story really begins.

I am weary to give away too much, which is what I normally do when I tell my beau about whatever book I’m reading. I end up giving him a complete recount of the book, cliffhangers and dramatic revelations and all.

I will say this about the book though. The pair fall in love. They get to travel. And as far as I am concerned, the author got the imagery of their travels spot on. I have been where they go (again, I don’t want to say too much, as it is an integral part of the story) and I can tell you, if you read it, that is EXACTLY what it looks like, sounds like, smells like. A tip of my pen to the author.

There are many themes in this book, all of which everyone can relate to, whether you have had to experience cancer on some level or not. There is love. New, uncertain, clumsy, messy first love. Familial love and the blurred lines of duty and guilt and love in family life. There is heartache and heartbreak. Isolation plays a big role in Hazel’s life, of her own doing as well as the nature of society. It’s interesting to see how she deals with that. There’s also obviously a running theme of mortality and religion, how they’re intertwined, and how the characters deal with each of these issues.

It is a heart wrenching story, from which I have learnt a very valuable lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. We’re taught by society that showing pain and dealing with it where people can see is unacceptable. There’s a reason “Get over it” is so popular. Because people don’t like to deal with uncomfortable situations. What I’ve learnt is this: You can take the time you need to deal with whatever life throws at you in your own time. It is your life. You deserve to have a happy soul. And if that means that you’re “still” crying over that thing, so be it. That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.

So feel it.

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