When I started reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green a few weeks ago, I immediately regretted the decision for two reasons. The first reason being that it is a book about teen cancer patients falling in love. I should know better. Why read something so assuredly sad? And the second reason being that I knew after a couple chapters that I was going to lose sleep over this book. I wouldn't be able to put it down.
Throughout most of the book, I waited defensively for the sadness to kick in. But to my surprise, this book about two teens who meet at a cancer support group is not a classic sob story. The book is more teen angst and young love than courageous cancer battle. The main characters are sarcastic and real, their moods up and down with the highs and lows of teenage strife. There are sad moments to be sure, but they didn't make me regret reading the story.
"You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice."
The book has a cult teen following and it is easy to see why. The main characters are smart and funny without being mean, and they don't feel a need to fit in and be cool. It reminds me of the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I also loved. The teens in Stars and Wallflower are not scary and horrifying to this future parent of teens. These are nice kids that navigate a difficult time in their lives with grace, humor and a sense of self that is rare even in adults. It gives me hope that my kids will somehow, someday, get through their teenage years intact.
"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
I wonder how Gus and Hazel would have fared if not for the cancer, if they'd met in another place and time, under different circumstances. Haven't we all wondered that at one time or another? You meet someone special when you are too young, while going through a life crisis, while still figuring out who you are and what you want out of life. I think relationships happen in our lives for a reason and at just the right time. But it takes years and perspective to see the impact, feel the lasting significance.
"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you."
I've always been a sucker for a good romance. First loves may end, but they stay with us forever.
The movie version of the book comes out today. Will you see it?