Book recommendation: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’m sure you’ve heard of The Fault in Our Stars by now. It’s only been published for a couple of years, but since that time it has received a lot of attention – and the movie will be hitting theatres in June.

Actually, it’s quite possible that you’ve already read The Fault in Our Stars, and therefore don’t really need this recommendation.

But, I can tell you from experience that not everyone has read it yet. I only read it within the last couple of weeks, and I know I can’t be the only one who put it off for so long.

So, to those people who haven’t read it: I recommend that you do. Although, admittedly, you should only read it if you don’t mind your emotions being tugged almost constantly.

Hazel, the protagonist of the novel, was diagnosed with cancer when she was thirteen. Since then, she’s been living with the knowledge that she’ll likely die at a young age from an illness that has no cure. But, despite that, Hazel has managed to lead a fairly happy life, including finishing high school early and taking college classes. But the cancer did change her relationships with the people around her, which is something that, at times, Hazel has some trouble dealing with.

On Goodreads, The Fault in Our Stars is listed in the “Romance” genre. But, to be honest, I have a hard time classifying it in that genre myself. Yes, it contains a romance element. But, for me, the story is more about Hazel’s relationship with cancer than it is her relationship with Augustus.

You see, the relationship that Hazel has with Augustus – as well as all of the other people in Hazel’s life – wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the cancer. And it goes beyond whether or not they would have met. If it weren’t for Hazel’s illness – and Augustus’, too – the two teenagers wouldn’t have been able to connect in the same ways. True, they likely would have connected in other ways, but the bond they formed in the novel was one that is very distinctly formed – at least in part – because of their mutual understanding of living with cancer and all that it entails.

Okay, I know that may not make a lot of sense, but I’m honestly not quite sure how else to explain it. I’ve seen – and heard – so many people describe The Fault in Our Stars as a romance with a tragic-yet-hopeful ending, but I just have a hard time seeing it that way myself. Because throughout the novel, Hazel is dealing with something so much more than just her love-life. She’s dealing with her entire life, and wondering how much longer it will last.

It was that aspect of the novel that hit me so emotionally. As I said in my recommendation of A Life in Men, I’ve never had to deal with being diagnosed with a terminal or life-threatening illness. But I do know people who are/were – some of whom are very close to me. And so the emotions that struck me while reading The Fault in Our Stars hit me in a very personal way.

Actually, as I’m typing this, I’m realizing it’s a way that’s so personal I’m not quite ready to share it. So please forgive me for not going into details regarding that element.

And, yes, I know not everyone is going to relate to the novel in the same way that I did. But I do believe that everyone could relate to it in some way that goes beyond the romance portrayed.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t see anything wrong with relating to the romance factor. I guess I just want people to be aware that The Fault in Our Stars is about so much more than that, and that maybe looking at something other than the romance in it will bring out a different type of understanding.

Goodreads summary

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

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