Saturday, November 10, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been on my must read list all year. I took it out of the library just after its release when the first burst of great reviews caught my attention, but I had to return the book before I could read it. Luckily, my son caught the Vlogbrothers bug and announced he wanted to read the novel so I bought it. I hesitated to read a book about kids with cancer just after a book about a woman with chronic renal failure, but I’m glad I decided to go ahead.

The Fault in Our Stars deserves its accolades. Hazel Grace Lancaster is a seventeen-year-old girl dying of metastatic thyroid cancer. Her physicians have put her on an experimental drug that has temporarily arrested the growth of the nodules in her lungs, but everyone knows the reprieve will not last. Her lung capacity is reduced so she needs to use supplemental oxygen during the day and a breathing machine at night. As the book opens, she is depressed and thinking a lot about death. She has very supportive parents but she worries about what will happen to them when she’s gone. In the meantime, she attends community college part-time and reluctantly goes to a weekly cancer support group for teens at her local church.

Then, one night at her support group, she meets Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor. Augustus had "a touch of osteosarcoma." He was treated and now has a prosthetic leg. His survival chances are 85%, so he doesn't really need to be there for himself. He’s attending to support a friend, Isaac, who has a rare eye tumor.

Augustus and Hazel discover that they have a lot more in common than cancer. They are kindred spirits. They think alike, talk alike. They enjoy the same books, music, philosophy. They have the same sense of humor. It is inevitable that they fall in love. But there is an urgency to their relationship because they feel their mortality with a frightening intensity. They want to live life to the fullest. Augustus, in particular, wants to leave his mark. Hazel, on the other hand, wants to do no harm.

This is a beautiful story about intelligent, kind, funny kids coping with pain, loss, and death. It’s realistically sad, without being depressing. It was good to spend time with people who truly appreciate the wonder of life.


  1. I really loved this book. Totally unrealistic dialogue, but I loved it nonetheless. With a story about children with cancer, it's hard not to feel like the author is emotionally manipulative, and Green may well have been, but there was something deeply touching about this book from beginning to end. And anybody who can make me laugh and cry at the same time deserves my accolades!