The Fault in Our Stars--just another love story or something more?
I have to admit-I was a little late jumping aboard the John Green
bandwagon. In fact, I tend to wait to read what's "popular" until the
chaos settles. So I did withTwilightandHarry Potter, and so I have
done withThe Fault in our
Stars. But, like they say, better late than never, and I'm glad I have
bought a round trip ticket to sit on the Green train.
As a high school English teacher, I rarely have time to read for
fun during the school year, and summer not only brings a mental break from the
stress that is a classroom of sixteen year old students, but it provides a much
welcome return to Young Adult fiction. So I began this summer surrounded byTFIOSmovie buzz, and like any English
teacher, I wanted to read the book first. After seeing the film and quite
enjoying it, I must say that the book, as per usual, was better.
The Fault in our Stars begins with sixteen year old Hazel
Grace Lancaster detailing the saga of being diagnosed with cancer at age
twelve. Believing that her daughter is depressed, Hazel’s mother strongly
suggests that she attend a support group. Much to Hazel’s chagrin, she slowly
walks into the church where the support group meets, trudging along with her
oxygen tank in tow. Hazel’s cancer left her with a set of ineffective lungs, and
now the only way she can maintain a balanced lung capacity is by breathing
through her cannula twenty-four hours a day.
But this particular day of support
group turns out to be different. Hazel catches the attention of seventeen year
old Augustus Waters, who himself has cancer and has subsequently lost his leg.
Augustus stares at Hazel so intently that at first she becomes uncomfortable.
It is not until Augustus responds to the following prompt: "Augustus, perhaps you'd like to
share your fears with the group” with “I fear oblivion” that Hazel takes notice
of Augustus as more than another cancer story.
follows the tragic love story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters,
doomed to fulfill the title’s allusion to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where Caesar tells Brutus: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” No
matter how deeply they love each other, each body is filled with an unstoppable
cancer, a “grenade” as Hazel calls it, and one seals the fates of these two
One cannot simply say they “enjoyed” this book because that
would be admitting that one takes pleasure from reading a book about kids and
cancer, and honestly, no one would rather read this than a book with a happy
ending. But here is my question: doesn’t this book have a happy ending?
Upon leaving the theater after the movie premiered, I saw so
many young girls (and ladies, it’s ok to admit it) leaving the theater in
tears. Yes, the ending is tragic, and anyone who knows the reference to Shakespeare
should not be surprised, but Hazel realizes so much more about herself because
of her journey with Augustus.
She finally sees that her parents have not given up on her
much in the same way she stood so intently beside Augustus. She realizes that
her mother has been planning on starting a career as a social worker and has
not, as she thought, been too preoccupied with worrying about Hazel. Most
importantly, she realizes that it’s okay
to hold onto what hurts and embrace the choices in life that symbolize disappointment,
love, loss, and oblivion.