My best friend for the last 24 years and I are obsessive readers and writers. We have been our entire lives. Something we started doing together last year was to write book reviews together since it was the perfect combination of our favorite things to do. Somewhat recently we read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green which flooded the market by storm and it is completely understandable why. I have decided to include this review here because it is a tragically beautiful book about life, love, death, and grief – – all things typically discussed here.
The Fault in Our Stars
Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave a mark.
I had a hard time reading this book and have oddly super procrastinated writing this review. I sat down to write it this morning and shuddered at the fact that I had made my notes while reading Fault in Our Stars on March 18th. This book was exceptionally written and I poured through the pages in no time at all. I felt countless emotions while reading it: humor, sadness, anger, devastation. John Green has depicted life and death and love so honestly that his words resonated with me and you felt like you were living through the characters. You empathized with them, you laughed with them, and you mourned with them.
But I had a hard time reading this book because of my own grief I am currently living with following the tragically sudden death of my fiancé in October 2011. Hazel, Augustus, Isaac, the parents… all were living and breathing life and death so realistically that it hit incredibly close to home. Hazel’s story put into words the wretched nature of grief that so many of us live with and so many aspects of the story felt like they were my own story.
The pain was always there, pulling me inside of myself, demanding to be felt. It always felt like I was waking up from the pain when something in the world outside of me suddenly required my comment or attention.
At times I felt like John Green was writing my story, writing this directly to me, and describing my grief in a way only I could understand. That is the powerfulness of his words. But I guarantee there are thousands of other people who felt the same thing as they read it. The beauty of this book is that you can take it personally, see yourself within the pages, and completely understand the depths of what Hazel’s story is. So many times I thought….. this is me!
The waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliffs, leaving me floating face-up on the water, undrowned.
As Hazel describes her journey with her illness and her impressions on the futility of life, you find yourself drawn in and you almost cannot comprehend how this young girl is so wise. Her illness, her brushes with death, and her losses have made her wise beyond her years in a way that only pain can. Any one of us who has experienced tragic loss or lived with a disease, either personally or through a family member, understands how dramatically pain changes you. John Green captures all of these emotions with ease and I think anyone who reads this would find it completely relatable to their lives.
What a slut time is. She screws everyone.
Even the concept of time was described in such a simple way and yet anyone who has experienced loss will understand it completely. There is never enough time. There are never enough tomorrow’s. When you have lost someone you understand the obsessive desire for just one more tomorrow. John Green captures this through his compelling words and you can’t help but be reminded how fleeting time is. I think that was the best part of this book for me — not how beautifully it was written, not how honest he describes the reality of life, not how intriguing the characters were, but how he tells life how it is in a no bullshit kind of way. There is no sugar coating loss, death, suffering, and struggle. Green is able to write this amazing story with complete honesty and makes no excuses for the reality of pain and one’s desperate need to cling onto time.
And then there is the love. While the main focus of this book is about understanding death, tragedy, and genuine courage, there is love. A sweet, romantic, teenage love story that can be seen as beautiful by a reader of any age. This is no sappy childish love story. This is one inundated with the harsh reality of their suffering and their unity over understanding the lurking sense of death. This especially resonated with me and I understand Hazel’s anguish of loss and her unfailing love even after a harsh separation.
I want to close by saying that I fully recommend this book to absolutely everyone, but prepare yourself to be changed, to feel sorrow, and to come away from it with a new appreciation of time, life, and love.
I close with five final quotes that I cannot help but share. I dedicate these beautiful words to my love, my sweet Zach whom I will forever love and will always wish for one more tomorrow.
I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things.
It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you
I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouln’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.
The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.
I missed the future. I felt robbed.