I’m late to the game, but I finally caught The Fault in Our Stars last night. I’d been avoiding this book/movie because it’s not about one sick person in a doomed relationship but TWO. You know this story will only end in tears, and I just wasn’t in the mood for it.
But Ed Sheeran’s All of the Stars music video, as well as Birdy’s Not about Angels, drove me to watch it at last.
Thank you, John Green. And I know my tweet was mildly sarcastic
But really, thank you. For creating such a beautiful, tragic, but somehow uplifting story that sheds light on cancer and the battle cancer patients fight every day.
I’m generally not into books with insta-love (Twilight was a phase – we all have our inglorious pasts), because I can’t understand how people can fall so completely head-over-heels for someone so quickly. Crushes I understand – but love?
But I suppose for Gus and Hazel, with only limited time on earth, they would feel everything more keenly. Insta-love in this case is not only justified, but credible. I love how they bonded not over their illness, but over a book, and a huge part of the story follows them on their voyage to Amsterdam to find the author, Peter van Houten, who changed their lives. And their interaction felt so real, you feel like you ARE Hazel falling for Augustus.
I also really like Hazel’s relationship with her parents. It’s not the “teenager wanting to be free and independent and hence rebels against the parents” trope you see in many YA stories. Hazel’s parents are protective without being stifling, and they have an implicit understanding with Hazel that they’re all in this together. It’s so nice to see a loving relationship between the teenage protagonist and her parents for once.
After Gus’s funeral ceremony, when Hazel just sat in her car, taking a moment for herself, I felt her pain. Her grief, her longing, her sudden emptiness. I missed Gus as much as she did. I missed his sweet and adorable text messages. I missed his bravado, his cocky smirk. I missed the reassuring smile he reserved just for Hazel. I missed everything about him.
But while the ending was devastating enough to bring even grown men to tears (what did you expect, right, with a love story of two terminally-ill patients?), it wasn’t depressing. John Green gave Hazel – and us – closure with Gus’s letter.
“Mr. Van Houten,
I’m a good person but a shitty writer. You’re a shitty person but a good writer. I think we’d make a good team. I don’t wanna ask you for any favors, but, if you have the time (and from what I saw you have plenty) please fix this for me. It’s a eulogy for Hazel. She asked me to write one and I’m trying, I – I just.. I could use a little flair. See, the thing is, we all wanna be remembered.
But Hazel’s different. Hazel knows the truth. She didn’t want a million admirers, she just wanted one. And she got it. Maybe she wasn’t loved widely, but she was loved deeply. And isn’t that more than most of us get?
When Hazel was sick, I knew I was dying, but I didn’t wanna say so. She was in the ICU when I snuck in for 10 minutes and I sat with her before I got caught. Her eyes were closed, her skin pale, but her hands were still her hands. Still warm and her nails were painted this dark blue-black color and I just held them. And I willed myself to imagine a world without us, and what a worthless world that would be.
She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she’s smarter than you cause you know she is. She’s funny without ever being mean.
I love her. God, I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have a say in who hurts you. And I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
Okay, Hazel Grace?”
– Augustus Waters
I feel so much better now after getting this out of my system. I spent the remainder of last night completely zombified, useless with my chores, because TFIOS is one of those stories that reaches into you and wreck you from within.
Plus, John Green is such a lovely human being!
I’m officially a fan.
Next up, If I Stay. Already have it on my Kindle, along with TFIOS, so bring on another bout of the feels. Yay for YA fiction!