Oh, I loved this book. So much. I believe I made it to page 11 before I knew that it was going to be an all-time favorite. I'm a fool for not recognizing it sooner. I'm crying again, let's take a break.
The writing, the dialogue, the story, and the message of this literary masterpiece is spot on. Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion, and John Green supplies it in spades.
The protagonists are cancer patients. Some terminal. Some not. This isn't a spoiler, it's announced within the first few pages, and they all attend group therapy together in the basement of a church.
"Which meant there was quite a lot of competitiveness about it, with everybody wanting to beat not only cancer itself, but also the other people in the room. Like, I realize that this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that's one in five . . . so you look around and think, as any healthy person would; I gotta outlast four of these bastards." (RUN to Amazon and put her in your cart. I'll wait.)
Hazel, our leading lady, lives with stage IV thyroid cancer. Isaac has "some fantastically improbable eye cancer," and Augustus Waters a "touch of osteosarcoma." He's on a "roller coaster that only goes up."
Basically, well I'm awful at writing synopses. (looking up how to make this plural. not going to tell you how i had it written originally. i am a little shamed.) All TA's I encountered at BYU can attest to this, and I really don't believe it's ever going to change. Digressing. Still. It needs to be noted. Lest you think I am unaware of my problem. I'm not. A book blog! What a grand idea!
Back to Hazel and Augustus. They have grand adventures, and not so grand adventures, but everything with them is perfection. It's like dating really. If you can't have fun grocery shopping with someone, chances are you're not with the right someone. Because how often are you going to be eating strawberries dipped in chocolate on the beach after you're married with children? Never. That's how often. But if you can laugh together at the Target? Golden.
Hazel and Augustus understand the ridiculousness of their situation and somehow manage to find humor and poignancy in the every day. It's brilliant. (Best. Synopsis. Ever. How am I not doing this for a living?)
I laughed through the whole book and even at the end when I was ugly crying into a towel (my son was in the tub and i didn't want to scare him. he thought it was just a bizarre game of peek-a-boo.) I laughed. And then I slept with the book underneath my pillow.
I work for a cancer foundation. Oddly enough, a highly improbable eye cancer foundation. Every day I hear stories of survivors, warriors, lost loved ones, and it's hard. (Just now my computer beeped to let me know i had email. I paused in my writing to read a note from a woman who just lost her young brother suddenly to this terrible disease. My heart is heavy.) And I suppose therein explains my love for this story. That people can find humor, and light, and love amidst terrible tragedy. That life fundamentally is so hard, and that we laugh anyway. We cry, and we stretch, and we grow. We love despite the possibility (perhaps inevitability) of heartbreak. And it doesn't get any better than that.
"The Fault in our Stars" by John Green