“The world is not a wish-granting factory”
I don’t immediately know after finishing a book if it’s going to make my all time favorite book list. Countless of times I’ve finished a book I enjoyed and moved on to another novel. All without a second thought to what I’d just read. Other books I’ve read I find myself thinking about weeks later. I ponder the outcome and what may happen to the characters after that final chapter. This is when I realize that the book has made my list. I finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green weeks ago, and I can’t get it out of my head.
On the surface The Fault in Our Stars centers on the main character, Hazel Grace Lancaster. Hazel is a 16-year-old girl who has thyroid cancer. The cancer spread to her lungs and she struggles with something most of us take for granted, the act of breathing. To help with her breathing she is constantly connected to an oxygen tank. Her team of doctors has Hazel on an experimental drug that they do not believe will rid her of her cancer. The drug should however increase her chances of living longer than if she wasn’t on the drug at all.
While attending a support group for cancer patients Hazel meets a young man by the name of Augustus Waters. It is through the budding relationship between Hazel and Augustus that the true themes of the book are explored. It is not just a cancer book. It is a love story. It is a story about life as we live it. It is a story about the lives of the people we know that continue on after we die.
The themes that are explored in The Fault in Our Stars are mirrored in Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. It is very profound how John Green uses this book within a book approach. The reader fully understands why An Imperial Affliction resonates with Hazel. The book An Imperial Affliction ends midsentence and Hazel wishes to know what happens to the characters. Did the main character die? What happened to her mother? What happened to her mother’s lover? These questions mirror Hazel’s fears of what will happen to the people she loves and will leave behind after she dies. We the readers are also left wondering if The Fault in Our Stars will end the same as An Imperial Affliction.
To find out what happens to the characters, Hazel and Augustus travel to Amsterdam to meet the author of An Imperial Affliction. The meeting does not go according to plan and John Green reminds us how often times meeting our heroes isn’t as fabulous as we’d dreamt. We tend to idolize our heroes and we forget that they are human and flawed. I must add that as an American who has traveled to Amsterdam, I found that John Green accurately captured the American perspective of Amsterdam. From how the Dutch speak better English than we do, to how mesmerizing the architecture and canals can be to an outsider.
From their trip to Amsterdam, to the battle with cancer, and in exploring young love, John Green masterfully explores universal themes without being heavy handed at all. John Green allows the readers to draw from the book their own emotional thoughts on the concepts presented. What baffles me is that the book is categorized under the “Young Adult” section. John Green writes exquisitely and creates in Hazel a character wise beyond her years. Never did I feel as if the book was written solely for teenagers.
I won’t spoil the ending, but rather encourage everyone to read this book. I will let you know that I’m okay with the ending.