I read. I read. I read.
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.I’m borrowing that phrase from Truvy of Steel Magnolias fame because it so accurately describes my experience of reading John Green’s latest book. I didn’t find myself short on any number of emotions while sharing the lives and love of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters.As stated very clearly by Hazel in the opening pages, both cancer and books about cancer suck. It’s a good thing that the real story here isn’t about a disease that leaves no heart unpummeled. This is far and away a story about being brave, being alive, and taking risks. Hazel and Augustus meet in the LITERAL heart of Jesus at a support group. Kudos to John for grabbing a hold of one of the more annoyingly misused words in society today and exposing it. Literally. Hazel is hesitant to move into Augustus’s orbit and rightly so. She’s shy by design and he’s as charismatic as they come. The unfolding relationship between the two characters is achingly described from the first movie viewing to the very last kiss.Besides the oh-so-sucky bond of cancer, Hazel and Augustus find a common goal in seeking the resolution to the (non)ending of a book written by an author who stepped out of society altogether. It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the reaction that many of John Green’s readers had to his gripping first novel LOOKING FOR ALASKA. The undefined ending of that book caused much outrage in the readership. A main character’s death isn’t plotted out second-by-second and the WHY of it is not defined for the reader. Although John is nothing like the imaginary author in this book (an alcoholic recluse who doesn’t quite redeem himself in the end), they both have had to react to a readership that demands black-and-white. The book-within-a-book concept that John has employed gives him a means of assuring his readers that he knows how much we love the characters. That they are real for us. They exist somewhere and they matter.What I loved the most about this book wasn’t necessarily the how but the why. Why bother when your ending seems inevitable? Why risk becoming a grenade for those you love? (Let me stop here and say how moved I was by that metaphor. It was one of several times I put the book down and gathered my thoughts.) Why put yourself through chosen pain when you have so much uninvited pain in your life already? Why? One of the numerous platitudes (or rather Encouragements) on the walls of Gus’s home surely is Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying. Hazel and Gus choose to live. When I reached a certain point in this book (Page 261 if you must know), I had to put it down because I couldn’t see to read. More than once I cried big ugly tears while reading. I also snorted in laughter a whole bunch. Augustus and Hazel are whip-smart, wise beyond their years, and oh-so smart-alecky. Their accelerated relationship (they move from not knowing one another to love very fast) fits into their accelerated timeline. Their own little infinity, you might say.There are too many quotable lines in here. So many passages that cut to the bone and then bandage you back up. The adults in this book fit the bill, the setting (full disclosure that I’m a proud Hoosier!) of Indianapolis was used to every possible advantage, the metaphors (who puts a bone cancer dude squat in the middle of skeleton art?!) are both obvious and subtle, and Isaac is around to smash some trophies when they need smashing. Read this book. Think about the life you live and those you share it with. Be grateful. I won’t soon forget Hazel and Augustus, and I don’t think you will, either.