I just finished “The Fault in Our Stars”, by John Green, a couple days ago. I previously had only read “Looking For Alaska” by him, and given the popularity of the novel I had more than a few inklings of what the book had in store. I was entirely taken aback by the vibrant personalities that were found there. A friend of mine(in response to reading “Paper Towns”) accused John Green for making his readers like high-schoolers, which I have to chuckle in agreement. They are rather tolerable in his books, even in their irreverent, carefree and immature ramblings. Augustus and Hazel Grace specifically, are two of the most vivid characters I have encountered in a book in a long time: Augustus with his fantastic visions of glory and immortal legacy, alongside Hazel and her (realist) pessimism that seems to cloud her every step…
Normally, I’m not taken into the trope of cancer victims(not to trivialize it) as readily as most given my mother’s condition of multiple sclerosis(MS). This is also aside from my grandmother dying of bone cancer when I was twelve; though I was rather small and barely remember her sadly, from what I hear she was a really swell woman.
Back to the book, it drew me into the (not)stereotypical reality of cancer, remission, terminal, surviving, struggling and persisting against all odds and pressures. I was continually amused and curious to the ponderings of oblivion from Augustus and Hazel Grace. I plunged into the depths anguish and frustration as the cancer had it’s way with the characters within the story. It was such a tragic paradox that the cancer, which is obviously made up of the cells of the person, kills them, this was a reality that was not lost on Hazel Grace and gave me pause as I read. I couldn’t help, but compare it to my Momster and her struggle with disease, dignity and the demons that seem to emerge from the cracks. If nothing else, the novel deepened my understanding of illness.(Yeah, even though I grew up with a sick mother I still have learning to do). By the time TFIOS ended I couldn’t begin to comprehend what was happening on an affective/emotional level. I felt frustration, sadness and loss, though without a way to express it or process fully. Instead, I sat on my stoop with a lit cigarette between my lips(unlike, Augustus I do give it the power).
The romance that played a large part in the story(though to me it wasn’t the whole thing), impacted my heart a lot as well. I haven’t talked a lot about love in a long time on here, but that’s partially because I’m still going through things that still need to be cleaned from my last relationship. Given it was months ago, sometimes it takes time to get back to normal and it takes a lot of time to clean yourself up and reflect on where you should be. The love story in TFIOS is one that at first I thought was too perfect and I was bitter and cynical of it. As I turned the pages, I started to realize what I had forgotten of high-school and what it was like(funny that it was only five years ago, but college does that). The overshadowing of cancer and ticking clock gives another dimension to how two persons can come together, so honestly and completely. Sure, Augustus and Hazel Grace never had a dramatic fight, but they didn’t have the time, nor could they spare an alliance when they were fighting a common enemy that was not only cancer, but the temporality of human existence.
In some strange way the romance of the two star-crossed(hehe see what I did there?!) lovers gives me hope that I can/will overcome my own pain,(which I have for the most part, but there are always sore wounds though.) I can reasonably assume that I am not the only one with this feeling, considering the success that the novel has had. We all deserve to have someone, who is all about us as Augustus and Hazel Grace were. As Hazel Grace says to Augustus:
“You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
That is something that I hope for not only myself, but everyone.(Yeah, I know that’s cheesy/corny/idealistic, but the sentiment is all the same.) Still, I hope that we should all share a small infinity with another and never regret it.