The last thing I wanted to read was a book about cancer. It was the season of merriment, Santa was coming, the kids were excited. I can say now that I did not. The Fault in our Stars is so much more than cancer.
Our book club recommended this book as optional reading. One friend said it was beautiful. I was tempted by her words and read a sample of Green's novel, a feeler, a taste. Nobody wants to cry right through the Christmas season. After the first page, I hit the download button. I hid in my room, let the kids run wild and finished this book in two sittings and a much loved night read, when all is quiet.
It's a girl (Hazel, amusing, witty) meets boy (August, heroic friend) in a cancer support group. It is predominately a love story. The author captures young adults in a tender, passionate and intelligent voice, that might seem older than their years, wiser even. They have been mellowed or realistically hardened by years of anti-cancer drugs, a fight for life, and a young-love-sarcasm-cool, all bringing the reader to deep thought and revelation. I so wanted to sit and hang with them, I really wanted to know these kids. The story makes you care, quickly.
The book is laced with gems of truth and brave observations about terminal illness. I still don't feel I know cancer any better, just the kids view of living with it and dying because of it.
The love story wins out, it beats the cancer and becomes the stronger, brighter, motivating push. The fluid writing, the characters of Hazel and August, the plot involving the trip to Amsterdam in search of answers, the not finding them, the love, the heartbreak, the unspoken caring, I loved it all. I also loved reading a story that valued time, every tender moment, the words so artfully formed and arranged to remind us all how precious life is.
How's this for teenager perspective?
"The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn't actual invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn't get smallpox."
Fault in Our Stars has the gem factor, makes you think, changes your world view, and stays with you long after you turn the final page.
Other beautiful books of 2012, Roddy Doyle's - A greyhound of a girl.
Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter - J. Nozipo Maraire. A letter from a Zimbabwean mother to her daughter.
By Lara Robinson.