If there’s just one young adult book you read this year, make it John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Heartbreaking and intelligent, the novel tells the story of 16 year old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient who has pretty much come to terms with her terminal diagnosis. Having to cart an oxygen tank wherever she goes because the cancer has ravaged her lungs, she has accepted that any day now she could fall asleep and never wake up. But that’s not the end to her story.
Hazel doesn’t expect much out of her cancer support group, and she certainly doesn’t expect to fall in love. Agustus Waters, a fellow group member whose leg was claimed by a malignant bone tumor, however, quickly becomes the object of her affections. It doesn’t help that Gus himself instantly shows an interest in her. That six letter word they share in common provides them a perspective on life that allows them to easily relate to each other, and they develop a romance that’s mature beyond their years. Despite Hazel’s terminal illness, Gus uses his one wish granted by a foundation to whisk her off to Amsterdam (though not without proper medical provisions) so she can meet the author of the book with which she’s been obsessed. On the trip, they both discover much about life, love and dreams.
Green has a fantastic ability to create real characters you can connect with. Other readers have suggested taking on this book when you’re alone with a box of tissues – as those around you may give you strange looks, confused as to whether you’re laughing out loud or crying. You’ll fall in love with these characters, laugh with them and never want to let them go.
This review also appears on the Lawrence Public Library's Great Reads blog.