Published by Dutton Books on January 1st 2012
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Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
The first half of the book made me laugh. There is a lot of humour in the book, and even though Hazel is really sick, you just can’t get past the humour present. And of course I have to admit that while reading I had this sense of dread looming over my head the entire time. But because of Hazel, the protagonist, and how strong she is, you are able to see past it for these brief periods of time.
The other half of the book had my heart aching. I cried, who am I kidding? I cried a lot. When I said that this book left an impression I wasn’t kidding. The characters and dialogue are really good. Hazel and Augustus’s personalities are what makes this book so great in my opninion. You can’t help but admire their strength.
There is this one thing that Augustin said that really stayed with me: “That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.” It’s just so true that I couldn’t not write it down.
Another quote that made my heart ache was when Hazel told her parents why she didn’t want to be in a relationship. “I’m like. Like. I’m a grenade, mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?”
And then the reply Hazel’s parents give on what she said a few chapters later had me smiling and crying at the same time.
“You are not a grenade, not to us. Thinking about you dying makes us sad, Hazel, but you are not a grenade. You are amazing. You can’t know, sweetie, because you’ve never had a baby become a brilliant young reader with a side interist in horrible television shows, but the joy you bring us is so much greater that the sadness we feel about your illness.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Really,” my dad said. “I wouldn’t bullshit you about this. If you were more trouble than you’re worth, we’d just toss you out on the streets.”
See what I mean? Passages like this made me laugh and cry at the same time.
The moment that Augustin, sweet and strong Augustin, tells Hazel that he is going to die had me a blubbering mess “What am I at war with? My cancer. And what is my cancer? My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me. They’re made of me as surely as my brain and heart are made of me. It is a civil war, Hazel Grace, with a predetermined winner.” What he says right here, broke my heart, nobody should be faced with such choices.
Then there is one passage left that I want to share with you. Hazel’s mom and dad were very present throughout the story and this passage is something Hazel’s dad tells her when Hazel has just found out about Augustus’s cancer returning, and I think that the way this is put to words is absolutely beautiful.
“You know what I believe? I remember in college was taking this math class, this really great class thought by this tiny old woman. She was talking about fast Fourier transforms and she stopped midsentence and said. ‘Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.’
“That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased towards consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it -or my observation of it -is temporary?”
“You are fairly smart,” I said after a while.
“You are fairly good at compliments,” he answered.
I had never read a book from John Green before, but I have to say that he is a really good writer. And honestly, this is one of the best books I have ever read. Which says a lot, since I have read a lot of really good books. It is a heart breaking story, that has you smiling and crying simultaneously and it is absolutely beautifully written!