The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Romeo and Juliet were the epitome of star-crossed lovers, by that, we mean that they may have loved each other, but their love could never come to fruition due to outside circumstances beyond their control. In Romeo and Juliet’s case, the outside forces preventing their love were their families. In the case of Hazel and Augustus, it’s cancer.
Hazel has had cancer for years, almost her entire life, a lot of her life exactly. She hardly remembers what it’s like to live without factoring cancer into everything. She has to constantly be hooked to oxygen. She goes to doctors all the time. She doesn’t go to school anymore. Her mother’s job is solely to take care of Hazel and her cancer. Hazel’s mom makes her go to a support group at a church, in the figurative heart of Jesus. It’s there, in the figurative heart of Jesus that Hazel meets Augustus Waters. He looks normal enough, but he too has had cancer.
Augustus’s cancer seems to be gone. He is minus a leg though. He takes an interest in Hazel and Hazel doesn’t see why. They trade books and share each other’s inspirations in life. Hazel doesn’t want to have a relationship with Augustus because she doesn’t want to die on him. She doesn’t want him to experience the loss of her. The relationship goes on though. The two both become enamored with one of Hazel’s favorite books. They contact the author. They want to know what happens to the characters in their favorite book. They want to know so badly that they go to Europe to meet the author. Augustus uses his wish from the Make a Wish Foundation to take Hazel to Europe to meet the author, who turns out to be a disappointment.
Bad news is on the way though. Augustus has relapsed. His cancer had an eighty-percent chance of survival, but that hasn’t stopped the cancer from coming back. Augustus goes downhill fast. It soon becomes apparent that Augustus will not live. He asks Hazel to write him a eulogy. Hazel and Augustus are both left without the ability to follow their love through to the end over the life-eating sickness called cancer.
What I liked
There’s been a lot of hype about this book. There is also a movie, just in case you didn’t know because you were living under a rock for the past five years or something. I understand the hype a bit. It’s a love story, popularized for teens. Teens generally think that they’re entitled to the idea of being in love and that adults just don’t understand. Adults do understand, all you teenagers out there. In some ways, this book is a version of Romeo and Juliet. Hazel and Augustus are actually star-crossed, just as Romeo and Juliet were. At least they got to taste love for a little while.
I tend to think that teenagers are not capable of the depth of love that an actual relationship takes because they don’t know who they are yet. I don’t think you can truly love a person, until you know who you are. In that way, you know where you stop and they begin and you still make a conscious choice to mesh their life with yours, knowing full well that the two of you are two very different people. I think if we don’t know who we are when we enter relationships we lose track of who is who and you don’t ultimately know if it’s something about a person that you love or it’s part of yourself that you love.
With all of that said, this book gave me a little hope towards the idea of teenagers actually being capable of relationship love. They were both very grown up because they had both had to go through very hard things and I think that probably makes them more grown up than half of twenty-somethings walking around. Maturity can go a long way in this whole idea of actually loving somebody. Most teenagers are not mature enough, by a long shot, but I think Hazel and Augustus were. They had both had to look death in the eye and that can mature a person right up.
What I didn’t like
Cancer sucks. Nobody should get cancer. For the life of me, with all of our technological and medical advances, how come we cannot cure cancer? How come we can’t be like, “Well, we invented this special type of radiation that we pair with your DNA and the cancer cells. The radiation is smart enough to only target the cells in your body that are cancerous. The cancer dies and then you heal up and go about your normal life”? Look people, all your smart medical researchers out there, get on that, right now, and don’t let Big Pharma buy you out. We shouldn’t have an entire profession of doctors dedicated to just cancer, because there shouldn’t be cancer.
Cancer hits rather close to home for me. My father died of cancer over twenty years ago. I don’t know what it’s like to have a dad. I couldn’t even begin to understand what picking up the phone to call your dad and talk would feel like. It’s not an experience I have in my life because of cancer. Both my aunts have had cancer, both still alive, thank goodness. My ex-sister-in-law died on a cancer, at a very young age, that she shouldn’t have died of. It was a sad situation.
Ultimately, cancer is going to be the end of quite a few of us, because everything causes cancer these days. I’m already more likely to get cancer because I have autoimmune diseases and that’s probably just what is going to happen someday, hopefully later. I’d like to live a while longer first. I saw so many people succumb to cancer when I was working at the nursing home. Cancer ate up their bodies and they died, people I loved because I took care of them, but they died because of a stupid disease that should be curable.
I don’t like that Augustus and Hazel both have cancer in this book. They’re teenagers. They should be out doing teenager stuff, not lying in hospital beds, hooked up to tubes, waiting to die.
Hazel and Augustus’ love story would not have been as strong, or appealing, had they been healthy. It’s the cancer that makes their story into a widely acclaimed book and a popular movie. Without the cancer, Hazel and Augustus are just two teenagers and that’s not really special.
I still feel sorry for them though.
If Hazel and Augustus did not have cancer, would you still read a book about their love story?
How many real-life star-crossed lovers have you come across?