The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, paperback novel, 313 pages, published by the Penguin Group in 2012.
Since Hazel was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has withdrawn from school, her friends and from the world in general. Her parents fuss over her and encourage her along to the Cancer Kids Support Group at a nearby church hall. The group is constantly changing as some of the kids have treatment or pass on. Regular support group goer, Isaac, brings along his friend Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor, for support one evening, and Hazel’s life changes dramatically.
The Fault is Our Stars is a poignant tale of love, death and life. Hazel and Augustus are living with death just over the horizon, and they try to live well, for themselves, each other and their families, though they face many more challenges than the average teenager.
Augustus and Hazel are not average teenagers, and I found them to be more sophisticated in their life views and speech. The obstacles that they have encountered have matured and changed them despite their youth. I liked them. I enjoyed their banter, and the way they were together. I liked Augustus’ terrible driving and his sense of humour, I liked Hazel’s intelligence and composure, her tenacity and her laughter. And I completely understand Hazel’s obsession with the book she has re-read dozens of times, and her intense desire to know what happened after the story ended so abruptly. The characters had taken on life for her, as so many characters do for me. Hazel and Augustus came out of the book as I read, making their journey part of my life too.
Beautifully written, insightful and real, this emotional story will stay will me forever. I laughed and I cried and cried, and had to put the book down for a couple of days before I felt like I could finish it. And all the while I was thinking about Augustus and Hazel, and how I wanted them to grow old together, to laugh and love and be together into a future where I know they can not venture. They did not waste the time they did have together, and this is a reminder to live our days to the full and not to let opportunity slip by.
I think the themes in The Fault in Our Stars may be too overwhelming for most primary school students, so this is a book best left to read in high school or beyond. It is a book that will touch you, that will remind you that life is precious, and that will make you want to hug your kids tight and never let go. Read it and let Hazel and Augustus into your heart.