I almost didn't read it. Why would I want to read something that I knew wasn't going to end well? I'm not sure what finally prompted me to hit the "Buy Book" button on my iPad but I'm so glad I did.
True, it doesn't end well and one of the lines that is repeated throughout the book is
"The world is not a wish granting factory"
Death is something we don't like to think or read about but the book wasn't so much about death for me as it was about life. The characters are compelling and their sardonic wit lifts the book up from what could otherwise be a painfully dejecting read.
The premise of the book is that two teenagers meet at a cancer support group. Hazel Grace carries an oxygen tank everywhere she goes and Augustus Waters has a prosthetic leg. They seem an unlikely pair at first but it was their destiny to cross paths and fall in love. If only their stars had lined up better.
These are a few of my favorite passages from the book...
It’s all fragile and fleeting, dear reader, but with this swing set, your child(ren) will be introduced to the ups and downs of human life gently and safely, and may also learn the most important lesson of all: No matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can’t go all the way around.-Augustus Waters
The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous mini mall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “They’ll remember me now,” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.
This next passage made me think of someone very close to me but I think it is true of anyone who has ever loved and lost someone and wished for just ONE more day.
"There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."
Lesson learned? Sometimes even a brief infinity is such a gift.
We all want for more but this book reminds us to appreciate the day we have today.
After finishing the book I wanted to know more about the author, John Green, so I googled him. I was intrigued to read that during an interview he explained that he wanted to write a book not about cancer but a book where all the characters are sick. He didn't want to create another book about how the life of the sick person affects a healthy person. His hope was to drive home the idea that every life has meaning and it is more than how that life touches others. I felt that he did this beautifully and as a reader I was able to empathize with Hazel's concerns for how her sickness and ultimate death would affect those who loved her the most and why she doesn't want to get close with anyone new.
“I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” - Hazel Grace
In this one sentence John Green reminds us that cancer doesn't just devour the body, but it also invades the heart and soul.
Did the book make me cry? Of course it did.
Life is often times sad and unavoidable. This fact is driven home time and time again.
This was no more evident than in the quote from Augustus Waters -
"That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt."
In between the pain, though, there is a lot of humor. It is the humor that saves this book from becoming another recycled Love Story.
For example, this quote, spoken by the aging and alcoholic author that Hazel has put on pedestal, -
"What a slut time is. She screws everybody."-Van Houten
There are just so many great quotes.
I will be collecting and reflecting back on them for weeks. So am I glad I read the book?
Now, I can't wait until June 6th when I can go see the movie version.