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.)
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?