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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

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.

I sort of put off reading this book. Not because I thought it wouldn't be wonderful. Not because I don't simply adore John Green, and his books.  Not because I'd read a bad review--I didn't (though if you know me, a bad review won't stop me anyway).

No, it's because I kept reading reviews or seeing comments about people crying. Sigh. I love a good "cry book" but I have to be ready for it. I am hear to tell you that judging debate and interp at a National Forensics League (NFL) district tournament and then on the ride to a sushi restaurant with your significant other isn't necessarily the time nor the place, but it did, in fact, work.

Hazel and Augustus are cancer-kids. Hazel is living with it and Augustus is in remission, living with the after-effects. Both have their own way of dealing, and both turn to the other for the forgetting and getting on with life. When the two are together, you'd never know they weren't just simple teenagers. Teenagers with a very mature understanding of life and relationships that can really only come with surviving the things that life throws at them.

But it's not all crying (ok, for some, I understand it was sobbing. For me, I couldn't see and nearly had to have several pages read to me so I could calm down.). No, there's quite a bit of laughing, some anger, some introspection. It's a thinking book. It's a "get lost in the story" book. For me, it was a "please don't interrupt me while I'm reading this because it's IMPORTANT" book.

It's not often I think I've learned some universal truth from a YA novel. Heck, from a novel. But I certainly did learn something of profound importance from Augustus Waters.

In a letter to an adult that Hazel and Augustus had the..uh...honor (cough, cough) of meeting, Augustus writes,
"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers."

As an aside, if your speech team participates in NFL tournaments, I heartily recommend this book for Dramatic Interp (DI). There are some simply amazing scenes that, with a little work, would be powerful in competition.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book is part of the library collection for the school library I work in. I was not solicited to write a review, nor am I receiving any compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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