Its been FOREVER since I’ve done a Book of the Week post. Its been so long that I cannot even remember what book I did for Book of the Week.
I’m also doing Book of the Week on a Monday instead of a Friday.
The best part? This Book of the Week is COMPLETELY spoiler free!!!
Mostly that’s because I had my very last children’s lit class today. Wednesday I’ll take my final and it’ll be done and over with.
And I’m actually really, really sad about it. I took it as sort of an extra units, sounds like fun kind of deal. I ended up loving it and I guess its no real surprise that I did. We spent the entire semester talking about folk and fairy tales (which I love, especially when you compare them to updates like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Once Upon a Time), children’s books and young adult literature (we all know how I feel about YA).
So today was the last official day of class and I was feeling a bit bittersweet about it. The best part of the last day of one of the best classes I have ever taken was that we talked about the controversies of young adult literature in the classroom and we watched the video of John Green reading the first chapter of his 2012 novel, The Fault in Our Stars. This book has gotten incredibly recognition, not only as a young adult novel but as a novel in general. I urge you to watch the video below; its long, about thirty minutes but its the first full chapter and it sucks you in.
which brings us to this week’s extremely late but totally needed Book of the Week:
What can I say about the Fault in Our Stars? Anything that I say is not going to be enough to describe this book. I guess I’ll try anyway because that is what I do. I write. Now I’ve already read this book before. Because we discussed it in class today, I just had to read it again. It was calling ot me.
I sobbed again. Damn you, John Green, and your abilities to make the waterworks come!
The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel, a sixteen year old girl who is battling cancer…except that she isn’t really battling cancer. She’s going to die, there’s no doubt about it, and the question is only when. She stays at home with her mom and her dad, reading and watching a ton of crappy TV, only going to support group because her mom makes her.
It’s at her support group that she meets Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor, and his friend Isaac, always part of the “club”. And Augustus grabs you, pulls you in, and pulls Hazel along with him. Suddenly, she’s out of bed and with him, watching movies and playing video games and getting so wrapped up in what is going on. He makes her forget that she has to lug around an oxygen tank or that he has an artificial leg or that Isaac has surgery that makes him blind. They do what every teenager, every young adult, every adult wishes for: they fall in love. A real love. So real that Augustus gives up his cancer Wish to go take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author of all time.
The Good or The Bad:
I don’t even know why I wrote “or The Bad” up there. There is LITERALLY nothing bad about this book. Nothing. Now I do not have cancer, nor have I ever been sick enough to even comprehend what Hazel or Augustus or Isaac go through. But I have been sixteen…and I’m a girl…and I have been in love. And this is enough to make anyone love this book. If you even have a freakin heart, you’d love this book.
First off, there’s Hazel herself. The way that she handles her cancer is unbelievable. I mean, she’s not a saint and she’s scared and every time she has a hard time breathing, she gets scared. But she handles it. She overcompensates with humor and throws herself into good books and poetry and crappy television and Augustus. I don’t think you could’ve told the story from anyone else’s voice except hers. She sees such beauty and life in Augustus and he sees so much of it in her, and you discover it the same way she does, in the way only a sixteen year old girl would.
And the conversations they have! The way they talk about the world or their cancers or books or whatever. Its incredible. I’m not a strong person. Sometimes I like to think I am but in the face of something like cancer, I don’t know that I could be like them. I dont know that I would be able to compensate with humor and cancer puns. I think I’d crawl under my blanket and shut out the world. Which is essentially what Hazel does until she meets Augustus.
And Augustus is amazing. The way he head over heels falls in love with Hazel, and does so much for her. He brings her out of her shell. They deal with their cancers together, and they talk about death and love and they talk about this book. How many teenagers understand books the way Hazel and Augustus do, and talk about them like they do, and are changed by books like they are? I am, I was and this is so much a part of why I love them. Augustus is so sincere in his compliments and his beliefs. He spouts of these tangents on life and his beliefs and not for one moment does he sound pretentious. He gives up his Wish (you know, from Make a Wish foundation) so that he and Hazel can go and meet their favorite author. He LOVES her. She LOVES him. And despite the fact that they’re teenagers, its one of the most believable loves I’ve read in a book.
Because they are so believable. Sometimes I feel like young adult literature lacks real, relatable young adult characters. I need emotion. I need anger and happiness. I need some serious bipolarness. I need a character that both handles and doesn’t handle what life hands me. Hazel, August, Isaac: they are all afraid, they all cry and they all deal with their cancers in different ways. But they’re all strong too, they’re all there for each other.
I won’t go much farther than this. I don’t want to ruin this book for anyone who has not had the chance to read it yet. Everyone should read this book. The more I read young adult literature, good young adult literature, the more I remember that its not just meant for young adults. This book keeps you addicted the entire time and ends in such a horrible, heartbreaking way. And I reread it again tonight and let myself have my heartbroken again.
Damn you, John Green, damn you and your amazing, amazing writing.
The Fault in Our Stars was chosen as Time Magazine’s Best Book of the Year for the year 2012. Not best young adult book, best BOOK. And it definitely deserves that title. Hands down, its the winner, despite the other amazing books that came out this year.
Click the link above to purchase it. You won’t be disappointed.
* * * * * *