An Annoying Book That I Can’t Help But Like

Hello, book #43 is done. Technically, it’s a reread. But last night I was in one of those weird moods where I wasn’t necessarily sad, but I wanted to experience sad. (Does that happen to anyone else? No?) I have a limited supply of books because I’m in Denver temporarily, but during class I got a free book (perks) that I already own, but that now meant slightly more to me because it was a gift and a new memory.

This is quite the buildup, and it probably makes no sense, but I finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I’ve read this book already, and I assume at least half the world knows the premise by now, what with the book being a bestseller, the movie, and John Green’s semi-sudden celebrity status.

I have some problems with this book, but I also can’t deny that I enjoy it a lot. I don’t think Hazel and Augustus are relatable, or even resemble any combination of real 16- and 17-year-olds. But I do root for them, and love them by the end of the book, and shed many tears at several points throughout the novel.

The book is about these two, as they meet, fall in love, and suffer together with their respective cancers. Hazel meets Augustus at a cancer support group, and everything about their love story is over the top. But it’s also beautiful and inspiring. So credit to John Green where credit is due, because he sure can write a teenage love story, even if he doesn’t get the teenagers completely right.

Whenever I try to talk about John Green, I end up sounding like one of those obnoxious people who makes a point of bringing up how they read that book/loved that author/bought that album before everyone else did. Which is ridiculous, because plenty of other people knew about and loved Looking For Alaska before I did.

I just feel like he thinks he has this monopoly on being a nerd, like he’s become this arrogant nerd. But just because he uses bigger words and talks faster and louder than everyone doesn’t make him a more superior nerd than the rest of us. (I clearly need to analyze and resolve my irrational issues with John Green.)

But he did do something important with this book, and that’s why I can admit (begrudgingly) that this probably won’t be the last time I reread it. He wrote about cancer in a realistic way through a jaded 16-year-old who has spent more time in a hospital than most do in their entire lives. He touches on looking past the disease to the human being who is still there, which I think is also important.

And he’s created a beautiful connection, and gave her love and hope and happiness, however temporary. It’s a love story, and a coping story, and a story about family, about disease, about friendship, about the many forms of disappointment and tragedy, and about what’s worth living for.

It did the trick and I got to experience sad and remember that life is short and unfair but also beautiful and a privilege that no one should take for granted. ◊

You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories,”

– page 209

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