Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Look, I know I'm forever late to the game with this one because people have been raving about it for many moons now, but you know, better late than never. AND OH.EM.GOLLY, YOU GUYS. THIS BOOK.

I had some Amazon gift card moneys to splurge, so I went for this book and my copy arrived on my porch yesterday evening. I sat down at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal at 11pm and started reading...and didn't budge from the hard chair until I finished the last page at 2am, with an empty cereal bowl and tears/glitter-eyeliner/snot on my t-shirt sleeve because, man, that book. It was a wonderfully youthful-katie-like experience, e.g. the type of irresponsible habit that simultaneously keeps me young and will probably kill me early at some point. (I regret nothing, not even the snot.)

This book untied me a little bit.
(Don't worry, no spoilers here that you won't pick up from the back of the book.)

It's all about a teenage girl with terminal cancer, falling in love for the first time. I half expected the whole "cancer love story" to manipulate my emotions anyway, but I also found myself crying at just like...the most random things. My favorite thing about this book was the CHARACTERS. I kept identifying with the main girl, Hazel, and I have a crazy literary crush on her love interest, Augustus. (What teenager is named Augustus? This one. Aptly.)

The best books are the ones that put into words things you didn't even know about yourself.

And boy did this one. I actually cried less about the cancer, and more about the parts that revealed pieces of me to myself. So, I know I'm not a teenage girl with cancer. But the way Hazel approaches love....I was like, "Oh crap, that's me." The other day I was thinking about my fear of hurting people and how that sometimes holds me back in dating. Hazel does that in this book -- she tries to wall Augustus out because she doesn't want him to fall in love with a dying girl. She doesn't want to be responsible for hurting him.

"When I try to look at you like that, all I see is what I'm going to put you through. Maybe that doesn't make sense to you." (*raises hand* I hear you Hazel)

The thing is, I'm really good at loving people. I'm really, painfully good at it. But I'm good at it to a fault, especially when it comes to dating. This book reminded me what other people have tried to tell me: that I need to give people permission to be vulnerable in my hands now and again. I have to let them choose it just like I choose who I want to love, too.

"Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you."

So there's the rub. This book made me feel more ok and more not ok than I've felt in awhile, but maybe in a way I really really needed. I can't more highly recommend it.

And now here's a pile of my favorite quotes, which probably aren't spoilers but will likely resonate with anyone else who's read this book:

  • "That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt."
  • "The diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You're a woman. Now die."
  • "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."
  • "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once."
  • "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things."
  • "I hadn't realized he'd thought about the book so much, that An Imperial Affliction mattered to Gus independent of me mattering to him." (Because isn't that the best? When your favorites matter to someone else, and not just because they like you? But because they also love the favorite thing?)
  • "I'll write you an epilogue."
  • "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities." (Dear gosh, how true that is. Sometimes a day or a couple months can stick with me and matter like it was years of my life. A bigger infinity, like the space between 1 and 2 is just as infinite as the space between 1 and a million.)
  • "It's primarily his hotness." "It can be sort of blinding." "It actually did blind our friend Isaac."
  • "Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you."
  • "She is so beautiful. You don't get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her...You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers."
  • "Writing does not resurrect. It buries." (This one, I love. I believe writing resurrects AND buries, but still. Such words.)

Have you read it? Thoughts? Other book recs?


Kristen said...

Beeeeeautiful book. Loved it. My favorite was how he called her "Hazel Grace" every single time. Precious.

Sierra said...

I almost cried reading your list of quotes. Ugh that beautiful, beautiful book.

Budget Splurge Beauty said...

okay let's get one thing out of the way: every time I don't think I can love you more I JUST DO.
Have you read Looking For Alaska by him? Because if you haven't, well, I politely demand that you do so NOW. That book resonated with me like this one does to you. And it's written in the same fantastic way of course.
But really, I was a LITTLE disappointed with the book. Maybe it's because soo many people had hyped it up. Maybe it's because I had expectations, since Looking For Alaska is my favorite book, I half expected me to like TfioS even more. But I didn't, and that's okay. Your review did help me like it a little more though :)

but PLEASE let me know if you've already read LFA or if you are going to because I would loooove to hear your thoughts on it.

Unknown said...

I had a similar reaction to the book. Only I mistakenly started it at work, and soon was getting looks, grumbles, and other not so subtle hints from co-workers that I wasn't doing my job...But then stayed up until 1:30 AM. I too, learned much about myself. Both, who I am and who I want to become.

Thanks for sharing your insight.

Unknown said...

I finished the book at like 2 in the morning and woke my husband up with my crying! He was like "Honey, you know these aren't real people, right?" It was SUCH a touching book, and I absolutely love all the quotes you included!


Unknown said...

Ok, you convinced me. It's going on my list. I'm on the lookout for good and different reads, as a girl can only read Amish romance twice before it's two times too much. :P

Kailee said...

oh you read it, yay!! It is the best, no? I think this book breaks everyone who reads it and makes them think about it for days after they've finished it. That's when you know a book is good..when it makes you think about it like it was your life you were reading and not a fictional characters. I cried so hard when I read this book and for about a week after it was done, every time I thought about it, I felt the choke in my throat and the tears ready to come out of my eyes. It's amazing.

Unknown said...

Well now this is obviously going on my to-read list, assuming I can ever finish this insanely long Wheel of Time business.

I should probably blog about how, when David and I were first dating, I told him about my tendency to break people and how he responded the best possible way a person could respond to that. WHY DO YOU ALWAYS GIVE ME IDEAS FOR THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT WHEN I HAVE NO TIME TO BE WRITING THEM

Love you.

Erin said...

I need to read it again. It's such a beautifully painful experience. Cathartic.

And really, it provides the best collection of quotes.

Anonymous said...

Oh I so loved that book! I wasn't expecting too because as popular as John Green is, the one book I read of his I thought it okay. This book made me smile and cry. I just adored it.