What Are We Reading? The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
This week’s What Are We Reading post is a fascinating view on children’s fiction trends, teens and death from editor Karen Ball.
Yeah, yeah, I thought. Another book about a teenager dying.
Forgive the cynical tone. I’m sure Hazel, the main character in The Fault In Our Stars, would approve. What she doesn’t know about ironic narrative ain’t worth reading.
But why so cynical, Karen?
Well, when you work in the industry you see patterns. Lots of them. Sexy vampires, forbidden love, YA dystopia – and teenagers dying tragic early deaths. It’s easy to become jaded. Fortunately for me, authors like John Green stop that from happening.
Hazel has thyroid cancer. Treatment’s made her future better than it once was, but it still doesn’t look bright. Then she meets Augustus in a Cancer Support Group. They quickly fall in love and exchange razor sharp dialogue to a macabre but beautiful backdrop of funeral rehearsals, a treasured trip to Amsterdam, love scenes that include prosthetic limbs, an encounter with an outrageously rude author, a picnic of orange food and a friend losing his sight. For a girl who’s daily life is severely restricted by her illness, Hazel achieves a lot. It’s enough to make you feel less sorry for the poor girl with cancer.
There’s a twist, though. The teenager you think is going to die isn’t the one who… Well, let’s not spoil the plot for future readers. Hazel’s narrative takes her and us by surprise. She ends up telling someone else’s story. Think your own life sucks? Try this on for size.
There’s a sparse, beautifully understated line from the novel that made me smile in recognition: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep; slowly, then all at once.” That describes how I fell for this book. John Green cast his spell to make its way past my old, raddled, cyncical hide and into my heart.
You can’t ask for more from an author.