“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.” How utterly poetic is that line?
First off, who wants to take me to see the movie?
But seriously, I have to start this out by saying that perhaps this book was more poignant and emotional for me because my mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing cancer treatments. On top of that, my husband’s grandmother (his mother’s mother) was diagnosed with cancer several months ago and has been undergoing chemo herself. It has been a roller coaster, to say the least.
As to the book, it is beautifully written. In the beginning I had a problem dealing with how very witty the characters were. But it begins to grow on you (I mean, it’s natural seeming for her, and him you can accept), and you wonder if perhaps there are not some people some where who can have such wonderful conversation. The dialogue alone between just Hazel and Augustus is worth the read. And throw in the other characters and it becomes just as wonderful. The mother and father are very believable, and so is her high school friend, and her support group friends.
I started reading this book last night at 10:20. I knew it was probably a bad idea. Sure enough at 12:30, I had to pull myself away so that I could get some sleep. I started it again at work this morning, and read it off and on as I could, and finally finished it when I got home. I did not want to put it down. I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I honestly figured after all the hype it would be another silly young adult novel, that we love because it is things we all experience or see. But this is not that kind of book. This is an honest book, I feel. It faces the hard truths of cancer that so many must deal with. It faces the fact that even the best odds may be nothing, and smallest odds can be proved wrong. Miracles happen, even if they are only short miracles, they are miracles all the same. It faces the idea of “cancer perks” and pity from others. It faces the hard facts of dying, in ways that must break one’s heart, and it faces the idea of love, true love, as so few novels have really managed. Twilight has NOTHING on this book (oh god, Twilight. How horridly written it was/is.)
Spoiler Alert Aplenty: So, in one part of the novel, there is a person who has passed away from her brain tumor. Hazel Grace is reading her wall, and all the messages that were left. One person says that they “were all wounded in her battle.” It strikes Hazel very hard, because this entire time she has known that her dying of cancer sucks more for her parents, than even for her. She begins thinking that she is a grenade that is going to go off and scar everyone and hurt all those around her, and she doesn’t want to. This infects her for the rest of the novel, until she finally realizes it no longer really matters, and the reasons behind this I won’t spoil. But it’s beautiful.
From here on out there are SPOILERS! I will try to keep them to a minimum.
So, they visit Amsterdam. And one of my favorite lines in the whole book is uttered by a taxi driver: “Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” I don’t think it even needs exploration or explanation. It is simply beautiful. And true.
There is so much in this book I want to discuss, I almost wish I had taken notes as I poured through it, but I was too busy rapidly reading it. Maybe I will reread it. Is that crazy?
Here is an interesting article:
I believe that the pace of this book is very well done, as I could not put it down. The moments between Hazel and Augustus are sentimental, real and touching. The wish made by Gus is wonderful, and the ending… the ending is everything it should be, as tragic as it is.
For my last thoughts on this tonight, as I feel I shall write more on this book after I take longer to ponder it, I do believe that I absolutely love Peter Van Houten, for how well written his character is, for the struggles he has gone through, and the moments of clarity he seems to have. I think it portrays how very, not necessarily badly, but how tragically some people handle the death of a loved one. This worry, about death, is of course a theme throughout the entire novel. For Hazel, it is very important, and it is obviously one of the reasons she cares so very much to find out what Anna’s mother does after the fact, because she is so worried about her own mom. I suppose it should have dawned on me much earlier that Van Houten must have had a relative, and probably a daughter based on his book, die of cancer. And yet, it came as such a DUH, of COURSE moment when it is revealed toward the end. Suddenly his whole personality begins to make sense.
I admire Green for being able to write such a character. So often as writers, we want the characters to reflect pieces of us, often without realizing it. We draw from moments and emotions in our own life. It can be hard to write such an imperfect, perhaps unlikable character, and even harder to accomplish the tragic/pity/love/hope we have for Peter.
Overall, I amazingly give this book a 5/5. And I huge shout out to my friend Nick who mailed it to me so I could read it 🙂
Now… to catch up on my poor writing challenge…