A fact John Greene lays out well in The Fault in our Stars, a story about two teens one terminally ill, Hazel Grace, and another, Augustus Waters who is in remission. Hazel has thyroid cancer which has metastasized into her lungs. All looks as if she is about to die when they try an experimental (and entirely fictional) drug that has only works in about 20% of cancer patients, and she ‘s one of them. It buys her time, the length of which no one knows.
Augustus is a survivor of Osteosarcoma , a cancer of the bone and is shy a leg to show for it.
Hazel Grace stays home most of the time. Her parents are her best friends and she reads the same book over and over. Concerned, Hazel’s mother forces her to go to a support group for kids with cancer, to get out and make some friends. Usually, she finds group lame, but this time Augustus Waters is there. He’s “hot”, and blatantly stares her down……..which she doesn’t mind because of the hotness and all. She’s surprised by his attention because of her chipmunk cheeks (medication side effect) and her oxygen tank.
But life often turns on a dime.
Augustus wants to dive right into a romance, but Hazel puts him off a bit. She won’t agree to see him again until he reads An Imperial Affliction
, or AIA, her favorite book (my kind of gal). AIA is about a teenage girl with cancer which famously ends mid sentence. It’s widely suspected that that means the girl dies right there in the middle of life, in the middle of a sentence, like we all do I suppose. But Hazel has questions about the rest of the characters in the book. It drives her bat shit
, and there was never a sequel. (You can imagine her frustration if you read The Dark Tower series by Stephen King as it was released……very…..s l o w l y). So, the two of them decide they will get some answers even if they have to go to Amsterdam to find the author and torture it out of him!
This is a beautiful book. And you will probably cry……pretty sure. John Greene’s books always suck me in, I’ve read most of them, but this one is his best in my opinion.
In an interview with the author at the end of the audio book, they asked John what he wanted people to get from this book (other than cancer sucks). He said that he wanted people to understand that very sick people are still people, that they are not other, apart from healthy people. We tend to separate from the terminally ill because we don’t believe, or want to believe, that that could ever be us. But at the very bitter end (unless we go quick) it will most definitely be us, and we will still be who we always were……just moving a bit slower.