The Fault in Our Stars pdf Book Overview
The Fault in Our Stars pdf is John Green’s fourth solo novel and his sixth novel overall. The fourth solo novel was published on January 10, 2012.
The title is inspired by Act 1, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, in which the nobleman Cassius says to Brutus: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
The story is narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old girl with thyroid cancer that has affected her lungs. Hazel is forced by her parents to attend a support group where she subsequently meets and falls in love with 17-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player, amputee, and survivor of osteosarcoma.
The novel, “The Fault in Our Stars pdf” has been adapted to a film of the same name as the novel. The film was directed by Josh Boone and starred Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff. The film The Fault in Our Stars was released on June 6, 2014.
The Fault in Our Stars Pdf Book Summary
In the Novel The Fault in Our Stars pdf, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, attends a cancer patient support group at her mother’s behest. At one meeting, Hazel meets a 17-year-old boy currently in remission named Augustus Waters, whose osteosarcoma caused him to lose his right leg. Augustus is at the meeting to support Isaac, his friend who has eye cancer. Hazel and Augustus strike a bond immediately and agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Augustus gives Hazel The Price of Dawn, and Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction, a novel about a cancer-stricken girl named Anna that parallels Hazel’s own experience. After Augustus finishes reading her book, he is frustrated upon learning that the novel ends abruptly without a conclusion, as if Anna had died suddenly. Hazel explains the novel’s author, Peter van Houten, retreated to Amsterdam following the novel’s publication and has not been heard from since.
A week later, Augustus reveals to Hazel that he has tracked down Van Houten’s assistant, Lidewij, and, through her, has managed to start an e-mail correspondence with Van Houten. The two write to Van Houten with questions regarding the novel’s ending; he eventually replies, explaining that he can only answer Hazel’s questions in person. At a picnic, Augustus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten, acquired through the story’s version of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, “The Genies.”
Upon meeting Van Houten, Hazel and Augustus are shocked to discover that he is a mean-spirited alcoholic. Horrified by Van Houten’s hostile behavior towards the teenagers, Lidewij confesses to having arranged the meeting on his behalf. Lidewij resigns as Van Houten’s assistant and takes Hazel and Augustus to the Anne Frank House, where Augustus and Hazel share their first kiss. Later that night Hazel and Augustus lose their virginity to one another in Augustus’s hotel room, confessing their mutual love for each other.
The next day, Augustus reveals that his cancer has returned. Upon their return to Indianapolis, Augustus’s health continues to deteriorate, resulting in him staying in the ICU for a few days. Fearing his death, Augustus invites Isaac and Hazel to his pre-funeral, where they give eulogies. Augustus dies soon after, leaving Hazel heartbroken. Van Houten shows up at Augustus’s funeral to apologize to Hazel, but Hazel does not forgive him.
Hazel learns that Augustus had written an obituary for her, and reads it after Lidewij discovers it amidst Van Houten’s letters. It states that getting hurt in this world is unavoidable, but we do get to choose whom we allow to hurt us, and that he is happy with his choice, and hopes she likes hers too. The book closes with Hazel stating that she is happy with her choice.
The Fault in our Stars Author – John Green
John Michael Green the Author of the fault in our stars pdf was born August 24, 1977. He is an American author, YouTube content creator, and podcaster. He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska, and has had several of his subsequent books debut at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list, including his most popular novel, The Fault in Our Stars. In 2014, John Green was included in Time magazine’s list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World. Another film based on a Green novel, Paper Towns, was released on July 24, 2015.
Aside from being a novelist, Green is well known for his online content creation, most notably his YouTube ventures. In 2007, he launched the Vlogbrothers channel with his brother, Hank Green. Since then, John and Hank have launched events such as Project for Awesome and VidCon and created a number of online series, including Crash Course, an educational channel teaching literature, history, science, and other topics. John also hosts the weekly comedy podcast Dear Hank & John and hosted the essay podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed, the latter of which he adapted into a book of the same name.
The Fault in our Stars pdf Book Characters
Hazel Grace Lancaster
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a 16-year-old college student with lung cancer. She is depressed and knows that she’ll die one day. She knows very well that being famous and loved widely does not matter as much as being who she is and being loved deeply because oblivion is inevitable.
Augustus “Gus” Waters
Augustus Waters is a 17-year-old boy who suffered from cancer and subsequently had a leg amputation. Gus wants to be known widely and have people remember him when he dies. Prior to meeting Hazel, Gus had a girlfriend, Caroline Mather, who died from a cancerous brain tumor, and it is stated that Hazel resembles her.
Isaac is 17 years old and goes to the same support group as Hazel because of his eye cancer. His eye cancer has caused him to become blind.
Peter Van Houten
Peter Van Houten is Hazel and Augustus’ favorite author, who wrote their favorite book, the fictional book An Imperial Affliction. Later he turns out to be an alcoholic who is neither planning to write a sequel for AIA nor willing to imagine a future for the characters in the book. He had an eight-year-old daughter who died of leukemia.
The strange support group leader who runs the meeting in the literal heart of Jesus at the church and had prostate cancer.
Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster
They are Hazel’s parents. Mrs. Lancaster’s main job is to (as Hazel would say) “hover over her.” She eventually plans to become a social worker and is already working for a year on her MSW. Mr. Lancaster is working for a real estate company – Morris Property Inc. He is the emotional one in the family.
Mr. and Mrs. Waters
They are Gus’s parents. They have words of wisdom or Encouragement (as they used to call them) written all over their home. Gus’s father along with Hazel agree that they have weird kids.
She is the assistant to the author Peter Van Houten who resigns in the latter part of the book. She was the one who first wrote back to Augustus and made Peter reply to Hazel and Augustus’s emails. It is Lidewij who takes them for a visit to Anne Frank’s house and pays (on behalf of the author) for their dinner at Oranje. After Augustus dies, she finds the last letters that Augustus wrote to Peter Van Houten before his death and emails them to Hazel.
Other characters include:
Julie and Martha
Augustus’s half-sisters, both married to bankers called Dave and Chris. Among them, they have three boys.
Isaac’s ten-year-old brother.
Hazel’s only friend from her pre-cancer life. Apparently, she is the one who suggests that Gus might have written something and mailed somebody else.
Gus’s ex-girlfriend who died of brain cancer before Gus and Hazel met.
Drs. Maria and Simon
The Fault in our Stars Book Information
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 8, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 014242417X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0142424179
- Reading age : 14 – 17 years
- Lexile measure : 850L
- Grade level : 9 – 12
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 1.1 x 5.4 x 8.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #6 in Teen & Young Adult Fiction about Self Esteem & Reliance
- #7 in Teen & Young Adult Fiction about Death & Dying
- #17 in Teen & Young Adult Social Issues
- Customer Reviews:
- 4.7 out of 5 stars
- 60,819 ratings
Read The Fault in Our Stars Online (Amazon)
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.) But my mom believed I required treatment, so she took me to see my Regular Doctor Jim, who agreed that I was veritably swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression, and that therefore my meds should be adjusted and also I should attend a weekly Support Group.
This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. Why did the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.
The Support Group, of course, was depressing as hell. It met every Wednesday in the basement of a stone-walled Episcopal church shaped like a cross. We all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been.
I noticed this because Patrick, the Support Group Leader and only person over eighteen in the room, talked about the heart of Jesus every freaking meeting, all about how we, as young cancer survivors, were sitting right in Christ’s very sacred heart and whatever.
So here’s how it went in God’s heart: The six or seven or ten of us walked/wheeled in, grazed at a decrepit selection of cookies and lemonade, sat down in the Circle of Trust, and listened to Patrick recount for the thousandth time his depressingly miserable life story—how he had cancer in his balls and they thought he was going to die but he didn’t die and now here he is, a full-grown adult in a church basement in the 137th nicest city in America, divorced, addicted to video games, mostly friendless, eking out a meager living by exploiting his cancertastic past, slowly working his way toward a master’s degree that will not improve his career prospects, waiting, as we all do, for the sword of Damocles to give him the relief that he escaped lo those many years ago when cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life.
AND YOU TOO MIGHT BE SO LUCKY!
Then we introduced ourselves: Name. Age. Diagnosis. And how we’re doing today. I’m Hazel, I’d say when they’d get to me. Sixteen. Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs. And I’m doing okay.
Once we got around the circle, Patrick always asked if anyone wanted to share. And then began the circle jerk of support: everyone talking about fighting and battling and winning and shrinking and scanning. To be fair to Patrick, he let us talk about dying, too. But most of them weren’t dying. Most would live into adulthood, as Patrick had.
(Which meant there was quite a lot of competitiveness about it, with everybody wanting to beat not only cancer itself, but also the other people in the room. Like, I realize that this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that’s one in five…so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards.)
The only redeeming facet of Support Group was this kid named Isaac, a long-faced, skinny guy with straight blond hair swept over one eye.
And his eyes were the problem. He had some fantastically improbable eye cancer. One eye had been cut out when he was a kid, and now he wore the kind of thick glasses that made his eyes (both the real one and the glass one) preternaturally huge, like his whole head was basically just this fake eye and this real eye staring at you. From what I could gather on the rare occasions when Isaac shared with the group, a recurrence had placed his remaining eye in mortal peril.
Isaac and I communicated almost exclusively through sighs. Each time someone discussed anticancer diets or snorting ground-up shark fin or whatever, he’d glance over at me and sigh ever so slightly. I’d shake my head microscopically and exhale in response.
So Support Group blew, and after a few weeks, I grew to be rather kicking-and-screaming about the whole affair. In fact, on the Wednesday I made the acquaintance of Augustus Waters, I tried my level best to get out of Support Group while sitting on the couch with my mom in the third leg of a twelve-hour marathon of the previous season’s America’s Next Top Model, which admittedly I had already seen, but still.
Me: “I refuse to attend Support Group.”
Mom: “One of the symptoms of depression is disinterest in activities.”
Me: “Please just let me watch America’s Next Top Model. It’s an activity.”
Mom: “Television is a passivity.”
Me: “Ugh, Mom, please.”
Mom: “Hazel, you’re a teenager. You’re not a little kid anymore. You need to make friends, get out of the house, and live your life.”
Me: “If you want me to be a teenager, don’t send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot.”
Mom: “You don’t take pot, for starters.”
Me: “See, that’s the kind of thing I’d know if you got me a fake ID.”
Mom: “You’re going to Support Group.”
Mom: “Hazel, you deserve a life.”
That shut me up, although I failed to see how attendance at Support Group met the definition of life. Still, I agreed to go—after negotiating the right to record the 1.5 episodes of ANTM I’d be missing.
I went to Support Group for the same reason that I’d once allowed nurses with a mere eighteen months of graduate education to poison me with exotically named chemicals: I wanted to make my parents happy. There is only one thing in this world shittier than biting it from cancer when you’re sixteen, and that’s having a kid who bites it from cancer.
Mom pulled into the circular driveway behind the church at 4:56. I pretended to fiddle with my oxygen tank for a second just to kill time.
“Do you want me to carry it in for you?”
“No, it’s fine,” I said. The cylindrical green tank only weighed a few pounds, and I had this little steel cart to wheel it around behind me. It delivered two liters of oxygen to me each minute through a cannula, a transparent tube that split just beneath my neck, wrapped behind my ears, and then reunited in my nostrils. The contraption was necessary because my lungs sucked at being lungs.
“I love you,” she said as I got out.
“You too, Mom. See you at six.”
“Make friends!” she said through the rolled-down window as I walked away.
I didn’t want to take the elevator because taking the elevator is a Last Days kind of activity at Support Group, so I took the stairs. I grabbed a cookie and poured some lemonade into a Dixie cup and then turned around.
A boy was staring at me.
I was quite sure I’d never seen him before. Long and leanly muscular, he dwarfed the molded plastic elementary school chair he was sitting in. Mahogany hair, straight and short. He looked my age, maybe a year older, and he sat with his tailbone against the edge of the chair, his posture aggressively poor, one hand half in a pocket of dark jeans.
I looked away, suddenly conscious of my myriad insufficiencies. I was wearing old jeans, which had once been tight but now sagged in weird places, and a yellow T-shirt advertising a band I didn’t even like anymore. Also my hair: I had this pageboy haircut, and I hadn’t even bothered to, like, brush it. Furthermore, I had ridiculously fat chipmunked cheeks, a side effect of treatment. I looked like a normally proportioned person with a balloon for a head. This was not even to mention the cankle situation. And yet—I cut a glance to him, and his eyes were still on me.
It occurred to me why they call it eye contact.
I walked into the circle and sat down next to Isaac, two seats away from the boy. I glanced again. He was still watching me.
Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy…well.
I pulled out my phone and clicked it so it would display the time: 4:59. The circle filled in with the unlucky twelve-to-eighteens, and then Patrick started us out with the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. The guy was still staring at me. I felt rather blushy.
Finally, I decided that the proper strategy was to stare back. Boys do not have a monopoly on the Staring Business, after all. So I looked him over as Patrick acknowledged for the thousandth time his ball-lessness etc., and soon it was a staring contest. After a while the boy smiled, and then finally his blue eyes glanced away. When he looked back at me, I flicked my eyebrows up to say, I win.
He shrugged. Patrick continued and then finally it was time for the introductions. “Isaac, perhaps you’d like to go first today. I know you’re facing a challenging time.”
“Yeah,” Isaac said. “I’m Isaac. I’m seventeen. And it’s looking like I have to get surgery in a couple weeks, after which I’ll be blind. Not to complain or anything because I know a lot of us have it worse, but yeah, I mean, being blind does sort of suck. My girlfriend helps, though. And friends like Augustus.” He nodded toward the boy, who now had a name. “So, yeah,” Isaac continued. He was looking at his hands, which he’d folded into each other like the top of a tepee. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”
“We’re here for you, Isaac,” Patrick said. “Let Isaac hear it, guys.” And then we all, in a monotone, said, “We’re here for you, Isaac.”
Michael was next. He was twelve. He had leukemia. He’d always had leukemia. He was okay. (Or so he said. He’d taken the elevator.)
Lida was sixteen, and pretty enough to be the object of the hot boy’s eye. She was a regular—in a long remission from appendiceal cancer, which I had not previously known existed. She said—as she had every other time I’d attended Support Group—that she felt strong, which felt like bragging to me as the oxygen-drizzling nubs tickled my nostrils.
There were five others before they got to him. He smiled a little when his turn came. His voice was low, smoky, and dead sexy. “My name is Augustus Waters,” he said. “I’m seventeen. I had a little touch of osteosarcoma a year and a half ago, but I’m just here today at Isaac’s request.”
“And how are you feeling?” asked Patrick.
“Oh, I’m grand.” Augustus Waters smiled with a corner of his mouth. “I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend.”
When it was my turn, I said, “My name is Hazel. I’m sixteen. Thyroid with mets in my lungs. I’m okay.”
The hour proceeded apace: Fights were recounted, battles won amid wars sure to be lost; hope was clung to; families were both celebrated and denounced; it was agreed that friends just didn’t get it; tears were shed; comfort proffered. Neither Augustus Waters nor I spoke again until Patrick said, “Augustus, perhaps you’d like to share your fears with the group.”
“I fear oblivion,” he said without a moment’s pause. “I fear it like the proverbial blind man who’s afraid of the dark.”
“Too soon,” Isaac said, cracking a smile.
“Was that insensitive?” Augustus asked. “I can be pretty blind to other people’s feelings.”
Isaac was laughing, but Patrick raised a chastening finger and said, “Augustus, please. Let’s return to you andyour struggles. You said you fear oblivion?”
“I did,” Augustus answered.
Patrick seemed lost. “Would, uh, would anyone like to speak to that?”
I hadn’t been in proper school in three years. My parents were my two best friends. My third best friend was an author who did not know I existed. I was a fairly shy person—not the hand-raising type.
And yet, just this once, I decided to speak. I half raised my hand and Patrick, his delight evident, immediately said, “Hazel!” I was, I’m sure he assumed, opening up. Becoming Part Of The Group.
I looked over at Augustus Waters, who looked back at me. You could almost see through his eyes they were so blue. “There will come a time,” I said, “when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this”—I gestured encompassingly—“will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
I’d learned this from my aforementioned third best friend, Peter Van Houten, the reclusive author of An Imperial Affliction, the book that was as close a thing as I had to a Bible. Peter Van Houten was the only person I’d ever come across who seemed to (a) understand what it’s like to be dying, and (b) not have died.
After I finished, there was quite a long period of silence as I watched a smile spread all the way across Augustus’s face—not the little crooked smile of the boy trying to be sexy while he stared at me, but his real smile, too big for his face. “Goddamn,” Augustus said quietly. “Aren’t you something else.”
Neither of us said anything for the rest of Support Group. At the end, we all had to hold hands, and Patrick led us in a prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, we are gathered here in Your heart, literally in Your heart, as cancer survivors. You and You alone know us as we know ourselves. Guide us to life and the Light through our times of trial. We pray for Isaac’s eyes, for Michael’s and Jamie’s blood, for Augustus’s bones, for Hazel’s lungs, for James’s throat. We pray that You might heal us and that we might feel Your love, and Your peace, which passes all understanding. And we remember in our hearts those whom we knew and loved who have gone home to you: Maria and Kade and Joseph and Haley and Abigail and Angelina and Taylor and Gabriel and…”
It was a long list. The world contains a lot of dead people. And while Patrick droned on, reading the list from a sheet of paper because it was too long to memorize, I kept my eyes closed, trying to think prayerfully but mostly imagining the day when my name would find its way onto that list, all the way at the end when everyone had stopped listening.
When Patrick was finished, we said this stupid mantra together—LIVING OUR BEST LIFE TODAY—and it was over. Augustus Waters pushed himself out of his chair and walked over to me. His gait was crooked like his smile. He towered over me, but he kept his distance so I wouldn’t have to crane my neck to look him in the eye. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“No, your full name.”
“Um, Hazel Grace Lancaster.” He was just about to say something else when Isaac walked up. “Hold on,” Augustus said, raising a finger, and turned to Isaac. “That was actually worse than you made it out to be.”
“I told you it was bleak.”
“Why do you bother with it?”
“I don’t know. It kind of helps?”
Augustus leaned in so he thought I couldn’t hear. “She’s a regular?” I couldn’t hear Isaac’s comment, but Augustus responded, “I’ll say.” He clasped Isaac by both shoulders and then took a half step away from him. “Tell Hazel about clinic.”
Isaac leaned a hand against the snack table and focused his huge eye on me. “Okay, so I went into clinic this morning, and I was telling my surgeon that I’d rather be deaf than blind. And he said, ‘It doesn’t work that way,’ and I was, like, ‘Yeah, I realize it doesn’t work that way; I’m just saying I’d rather be deaf than blind if I had the choice, which I realize I don’t have,’ and he said, ‘Well, the good news is that you won’t be deaf,’ and I was like, ‘Thank you for explaining that my eye cancer isn’t going to make me deaf. I feel so fortunate that an intellectual giant like yourself would deign to operate on me.’”
“He sounds like a winner,” I said. “I’m gonna try to get me some eye cancer just so I can make this guy’s acquaintance.”
“Good luck with that. All right, I should go. Monica’s waiting for me. I gotta look at her a lot while I can.”
“Counterinsurgence tomorrow?” Augustus asked.
“Definitely.” Isaac turned and ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time.
Augustus Waters turned to me. “Literally,” he said.
“Literally?” I asked.
“We are literally in the heart of Jesus,” he said. “I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literally in the heart of Jesus.”
“Someone should tell Jesus,” I said. “I mean, it’s gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart.”
“I would tell Him myself,” Augustus said, “but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won’t be able to hear me.” I laughed. He shook his head, just looking at me.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Augustus half smiled. “Because you’re beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence.” A brief awkward silence ensued. Augustus plowed through: “I mean, particularly given that, as you so deliciously pointed out, all of this will end in oblivion and everything.”
I kind of scoffed or sighed or exhaled in a way that was vaguely coughy and then said, “I’m not beau—”
“You’re like a millennial Natalie Portman. Like V for Vendetta Natalie Portman.”
“Never seen it,” I said.
“Really?” he asked. “Pixie-haired gorgeous girl dislikes authority and can’t help but fall for a boy she knows is trouble. It’s your autobiography, so far as I can tell.”
His every syllable flirted. Honestly, he kind of turned me on. I didn’t even know that guys could turn me on—not, like, in real life.
A younger girl walked past us. “How’s it going, Alisa?” he asked. She smiled and mumbled, “Hi, Augustus.” “Memorial people,” he explained. Memorial was the big research hospital. “Where do you go?”
“Children’s,” I said, my voice smaller than I expected it to be. He nodded. The conversation seemed over. “Well,” I said, nodding vaguely toward the steps that led us out of the Literal Heart of Jesus. I tilted my cart onto its wheels and started walking. He limped beside me. “So, see you next time, maybe?” I asked.
“You should see it,” he said. “V for Vendetta, I mean.”
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll look it up.”
“No. With me. At my house,” he said. “Now.”
I stopped walking. “I hardly know you, Augustus Waters. You could be an ax murderer.”
He nodded. “True enough, Hazel Grace.” He walked past me, his shoulders filling out his green knit polo shirt, his back straight, his steps lilting just slightly to the right as he walked steady and confident on what I had determined was a prosthetic leg. Osteosarcoma sometimes takes a limb to check you out. Then, if it likes you, it takes the rest.
I followed him upstairs, losing ground as I made my way up slowly, stairs not being a field of expertise for my lungs.
And then we were out of Jesus’s heart and in the parking lot, the spring air just on the cold side of perfect, the late-afternoon light heavenly in its hurtfulness.
Mom wasn’t there yet, which was unusual, because Mom was almost always waiting for me. I glanced around and saw that a tall, curvy brunette girl had Isaac pinned against the stone wall of the church, kissing him rather aggressively. They were close enough to me that I could hear the weird noises of their mouths together, and I could hear him saying, “Always,” and her saying, “Always,” in return.
Suddenly standing next to me, Augustus half whispered, “They’re big believers in PDA.”
“What’s with the ‘always’?” The slurping sounds intensified.
“Always is their thing. They’ll always love each other and whatever. I would conservatively estimate they have texted each other the word always four million times in the last year.”
A couple more cars drove up, taking Michael and Alisa away. It was just Augustus and me now, watching Isaac and Monica, who proceeded apace as if they were not leaning against a place of worship. His hand reached for her boob over her shirt and pawed at it, his palm still while his fingers moved around. I wondered if that felt good. Didn’t seem like it would, but I decided to forgive Isaac on the grounds that he was going blind. The senses must feast while there is yet hunger and whatever.
“Imagine taking that last drive to the hospital,” I said quietly. “The last time you’ll ever drive a car.”
Without looking over at me, Augustus said, “You’re killing my vibe here, Hazel Grace. I’m trying to observe young love in its many-splendored awkwardness.”
“I think he’s hurting her boob,” I said.
“Yes, it’s difficult to ascertain whether he is trying to arouse her or perform a breast exam.” Then Augustus Waters reached into a pocket and pulled out, of all things, a pack of cigarettes. He flipped it open and put a cigarette between his lips.
“Are you serious?” I asked. “You think that’s cool? Oh, my God, you just ruined the whole thing.”
“Which whole thing?” he asked, turning to me. The cigarette dangled unlit from the unsmiling corner of his mouth.
“The whole thing where a boy who is not unattractive or unintelligent or seemingly in any way unacceptable stares at me and points out incorrect uses of literality and compares me to actresses and asks me to watch a movie at his house. But of course there is always a hamartia and yours is that oh, my God, even though you HAD FREAKING CANCER you give money to a company in exchange for the chance to acquire YET MORE CANCER. Oh, my God. Let me just assure you that not being able to breathe? SUCKS. Totally disappointing. Totally.”
“A hamartia?” he asked, the cigarette still in his mouth. It tightened his jaw. He had a hell of a jawline, unfortunately.
“A fatal flaw,” I explained, turning away from him. I stepped toward the curb, leaving Augustus Waters behind me, and then I heard a car start down the street. It was Mom. She’d been waiting for me to, like, make friends or whatever.
I felt this weird mix of disappointment and anger welling up inside of me. I don’t even know what the feeling was, really, just that there was a lot of it, and I wanted to smack Augustus Waters and also replace my lungs with lungs that didn’t suck at being lungs. I was standing with my Chuck Taylors on the very edge of the curb, the oxygen tank ball-and-chaining in the cart by my side, and right as my mom pulled up, I felt a hand grab mine.
I yanked my hand free but turned back to him.
“They don’t kill you unless you light them,” he said as Mom arrived at the curb. “And I’ve never lit one. It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”
“It’s a metaphor,” I said, dubious. Mom was just idling.
“It’s a metaphor,” he said.
“You choose your behaviors based on their metaphorical resonances…” I said.
“Oh, yes.” He smiled. The big, goofy, real smile. “I’m a big believer in metaphor, Hazel Grace.”
I turned to the car. Tapped the window. It rolled down. “I’m going to a movie with Augustus Waters,” I said. “Please record the next several episodes of the ANTM marathon for me.”
Augustus Waters drove horrifically. Whether stopping or starting, everything happened with a tremendous JOLT. I flew against the seat belt of his Toyota SUV each time he braked, and my neck snapped backward each time he hit the gas. I might have been nervous—what with sitting in the car of a strange boy on the way to his house, keenly aware that my crap lungs complicate efforts to fend off unwanted advances—but his driving was so astonishingly poor that I could think of nothing else.
We’d gone perhaps a mile in jagged silence before Augustus said, “I failed the driving test three times.”
“You don’t say.”
He laughed, nodding. “Well, I can’t feel pressure in old Prosty, and I can’t get the hang of driving left-footed. My doctors say most amputees can drive with no problem, but…yeah. Not me. Anyway, I go in for my fourth driving test, and it goes about like this is going.” A half mile in front of us, a light turned red. Augustus slammed on the brakes, tossing me into the triangular embrace of the seat belt. “Sorry. I swear to God I am trying to be gentle. Right, so anyway, at the end of the test, I totally thought I’d failed again, but the instructor was like, ‘Your driving is unpleasant, but it isn’t technically unsafe.’”
“I’m not sure I agree,” I said. “I suspect Cancer Perk.” Cancer Perks are the little things cancer kids get that regular kids don’t: basketballs signed by sports heroes, free passes on late homework, unearned driver’s licenses, etc.
“Yeah,” he said. The light turned green. I braced myself. Augustus slammed the gas.
“You know they’ve got hand controls for people who can’t use their legs,” I pointed out.
“Yeah,” he said. “Maybe someday.” He sighed in a way that made me wonder whether he was confident about the existence of someday. I knew osteosarcoma was highly curable, but still.
There are a number of ways to establish someone’s approximate survival expectations without actually asking. I used the classic: “So, are you in school?” Generally, your parents pull you out of school at some point if they expect you to bite it.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’m at North Central. A year behind, though: I’m a sophomore. You?”
I considered lying. No one likes a corpse, after all. But in the end I told the truth. “No, my parents withdrew me three years ago.”
“Three years?” he asked, astonished.
I told Augustus the broad outline of my miracle: diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer when I was thirteen. (I didn’t tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die.) It was, we were told, incurable.
I had a surgery called radical neck dissection, which is about as pleasant as it sounds. Then radiation. Then they tried some chemo for my lung tumors. The tumors shrank, then grew. By then, I was fourteen. My lungs started to fill up with water. I was looking pretty dead—my hands and feet ballooned; my skin cracked; my lips were perpetually blue. They’ve got this drug that makes you not feel so completely terrified about the fact that you can’t breathe, and I had a lot of it flowing into me through a PICC line, and more than a dozen other drugs besides. But even so, there’s a certain unpleasantness to drowning, particularly when it occurs over the course of several months. I finally ended up in the ICU with pneumonia, and my mom knelt by the side of my bed and said, “Are you ready, sweetie?” and I told her I was ready, and my dad just kept telling me he loved me in this voice that was not breaking so much as already broken, and I kept telling him that I loved him, too, and everyone was holding hands, and I couldn’t catch my breath, and my lungs were acting desperate, gasping, pulling me out of the bed trying to find a position that could get them air, and I was embarrassed by their desperation, disgusted that they wouldn’t just let go, and I remember my mom telling me it was okay, that I was okay, that I would be okay, and my father was trying so hard not to sob that when he did, which was regularly, it was an earthquake. And I remember wanting not to be awake.
Everyone figured I was finished, but my Cancer Doctor Maria managed to get some of the fluid out of my lungs, and shortly thereafter the antibiotics they’d given me for the pneumonia kicked in.
I woke up and soon got into one of those experimental trials that are famous in the Republic of Cancervania for Not Working. The drug was Phalanxifor, this molecule designed to attach itself to cancer cells and slow their growth. It didn’t work in about 70 percent of people. But it worked in me. The tumors shrank.
And they stayed shrunk. Huzzah, Phalanxifor! In the past eighteen months, my mets have hardly grown, leaving me with lungs that suck at being lungs but could, conceivably, struggle along indefinitely with the assistance of drizzled oxygen and daily Phalanxifor.
Admittedly, my Cancer Miracle had only resulted in a bit of purchased time. (I did not yet know the size of the bit.) But when telling Augustus Waters, I painted the rosiest possible picture, embellishing the miraculousness of the miracle.
“So now you gotta go back to school,” he said.
“I actually can’t,” I explained, “because I already got my GED. So I’m taking classes at MCC,” which was our community college.
“A college girl,” he said, nodding. “That explains the aura of sophistication.” He smirked at me. I shoved his upper arm playfully. I could feel the muscle right beneath the skin, all tense and amazing.
We made a wheels-screeching turn into a subdivision with eight-foot-high stucco walls. His house was the first one on the left. A two-story colonial. We jerked to a halt in his driveway.
I followed him inside. A wooden plaque in the entryway was engraved in cursive with the words Home Is Where the Heart Is, and the entire house turned out to be festooned in such observations. Good Friends Are Hard to Find and Impossible to Forget read an illustration above the coatrack. True Love Is Born from Hard Times promised a needlepointed pillow in their antique-furnished living room. Augustus saw me reading. “My parents call them Encouragements,” he explained. “They’re everywhere.”
His mom and dad called him Gus. They were making enchiladas in the kitchen (a piece of stained glass by the sink read in bubbly letters Family Is Forever). His mom was putting chicken into tortillas, which his dad then rolled up and placed in a glass pan. They didn’t seem too surprised by my arrival, which made sense: The fact that Augustus made me feel special did not necessarily indicate that I was special. Maybe he brought home a different girl every night to show her movies and feel her up.
“This is Hazel Grace,” he said, by way of introduction.
“Just Hazel,” I said.
“How’s it going, Hazel?” asked Gus’s dad. He was tall—almost as tall as Gus—and skinny in a way that parentally aged people usually aren’t.
“Okay,” I said.
“How was Isaac’s Support Group?”
“It was incredible,” Gus said.
“You’re such a Debbie Downer,” his mom said. “Hazel, do you enjoy it?”
I paused a second, trying to figure out if my response should be calibrated to please Augustus or his parents. “Most of the people are really nice,” I finally said.
“That’s exactly what we found with families at Memorial when we were in the thick of it with Gus’s treatment,” his dad said. “Everybody was so kind. Strong, too. In the darkest days, the Lord puts the best people into your life.”
The Fault in Our Stars Review
5.0 out of 5 stars From a teen-age survivor
Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2013
I am not quite finished with the book, but so far, I think it is very well written. It covers a topic that is difficult to talk about and is often avoided. It has been challenging for me to get through; however, I feel like I should add my perspective. I was diagnosed with cancer at 10. I am now 15 years old and a teen-age cancer survivor. I am a volunteer and advocate for pediatric cancer awareness.
This book has gotten negative reviews based on several points:
1) This is from another reviewer: “The characters are not believable. They do not speak like teenagers. They do not even handle situations like teenagers do. So many interactions between Gus and Hazel are interactions which, plain and simple, just would not happen between real, emotional, scared, awkward, virgin teenagers, let alone ones with cancer who have been socially cut off for much of their lives.”
*My point-of-view: Have you spent time with any of us? They are believable as teen-age cancer patients/survivors. We may look like teen-agers, but in our heads, we are not. We have had to face our own mortality and make choices we should never have to make. It makes us grow up…quickly. Most of us do not act or speak like teen-agers because that is no longer how we think. After treatment, many of us find the things most teens (and sometimes adults) are worried about are trivial. Society cuts us off, but we are not cut off from each other. These types of interactions do happen. And, it is emotional and scary, but we learn to tell it like it is, without the normal fluff and awkwardness. We find ‘normal’ where we can and try to live every single day we have because we know that time is an illusion.
2) The parents are not real, not deep characters, and they do not have their own identities.
*My point-of-view: I have seen my own parents (and siblings) and the parents of other friends struggle with this. Many times, they do not have their own identities anymore. Every single minute is spent trying to make it to the next! They try to keep the family together and functioning, in spite of the effects of treatment, fevers and midnight trips to the emergency room, 3 weeks of the month spent in isolation, jobs in jeopardy, birthdays and holidays interrupted, not to mention talks that parents never want to have with their child. I’ve talked to my mom about this. This becomes their identity. My mom said their jobs become about doing whatever it takes, travelling all over the country (which is very common), researching new studies, and new medicines, all to help us survive and thrive with grace and dignity. It is also their job to prepare, if treatments don’t work, to help us die with just as much grace and dignity.
I hope everyone can read this with an open mind and an open heart. Then, reach out to the patients and survivors in your communities. They are wise beyond their years, funny, brave and inspiring.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best stories are about memory
Reviewed in the United States on July 26, 2016
The best stories are about memory.
The Fault in Our Stars pdf by John Green is quite possibly the best standalone novel I have ever read and is certainly the most phenomenal book I’ve had the privilege to experience in the year 2013. It is my third favorite story and favorite non-fantasy novel. The title comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and it sets the perfect tone for this story written in the first person by Hazel, a sixteen year old girl in the regressive stage of lung cancer who nevertheless is required to cart around an oxygen tank because (as she so perfectly puts it) her “lungs suck at being lungs.” Her mother forces her to go to a cancer patient/survivor group where she proceeds to exercise her considerable teenage snark and wit along with her friend Isaac who is suffering from a type of cancer that eventually requires the removal of an eye.
One day Hazel catches the attention of a boy named Augustus and their romance is as breathtaking and expedient as it is completely genuine and uncontrived. Augustus has recovered from bone cancer that left him with a prosthetic leg, but did nothing to diminish his spirit. She can scarcely believe he’s as perfect as he projects and indeed feels as though she’s found his hamartia or fatal flaw when he puts a cigarette in his mouth. Hazel is of course livid that anyone who survived cancer would willingly place themselves into its way again, but Augustus never lights them using the act as a metaphor of having “the killing thing right between your teeth, but you not giving it the power to do its killing.”
Both of them together have enough wit and snark to drown the world in metaphors and sarcasm with just the barest dash of bitterness for their plight. Hazel whom Augustus calls “Hazel Grace” for most of the novel feels incredibly guilty that she’s allowed Augustus to fall for her as she and her family expect her cancer to return full force at any moment, and yet their relationship parallels the ever moving train of her mortality. So much so that Hazel shares with him that her favorite book is a story by the reclusive author Peter Van Houten called An Imperial Affliction.
“My favorite book, by a wide margin, was An Imperial Affliction, but I didn’t like to tell people about it. Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising that affections feels like a betrayal.”
Van Houten’s work is very meta to the larger story at hand being about a girl named Anna who suffers from cancer and her one-eyed mother who grows tulips. But Hazel makes it very clear that this is not a cancer book in the same way that The Fault in Our Stars is not a cancer book. Anna grows progressively sicker and her mother falls in love with a Dutch Tulip Man who has a great deal of money and exotic ideas about how to treat Anna’s cancer, but just when the DTM and Anna’s mom are about to possibly get married and Anna is about to start a new treatment, the book ends right in the middle of a-
This drives Hazel and eventually Augustus up the wall to not know what happened to everyone from Anna’s hamster Sisyphus to Anna herself. Hazel assumes that Anna became too sick to continue writing (the assumption being that her story was first person just as Hazel’s is), but for Van Houten to not have finished it seems like the ultimate literary betrayal.
As terrified as Hazel was to share this joy with Augustus (and god knows I understand that feeling) it was the best thing she could’ve done because they now share the obsession and the insistence that the characters deserve an ending.
The conversations of Hazel and Augustus are not typical teenage conversations, but they’re not typical teenagers. Mortality flavors all of their discussions and leads to elegance such as
“The tales of our exploits will survive as long as the human voice itself. And even after that, when the robots recall the human absurdities of sacrifice and compassion, they will remember us.”
They speak of memory and calculate how there are fourteen dead people for everyone alive and realize that remembering fourteen people isn’t that difficult. We could all do that if we tried that way no one has to be forgotten. But will we then fight over who we are allowed to remember? Or will the fourteen just be added to those we can never forget? They read each other the poetry of T.S Eliot, the haunting lines of Prufrock,
“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Til human voices wake us, and we drown.”
And as Augustus reads Hazel her favorite book she
“…fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
The quotes from this story are among the most poignant and beautiful I have ever seen.
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
When I finished this I thought to myself, “How am I going to read anything else? How will I find something to match this? How can I pick up another book and not expect it to resonate with this haunting beauty, this tragedy ringed with comic teenage snark and tones that are themselves tragic in their sarcasm like whistling in the ninth circle of hell or laughing uproariously at the monster?” I realized I was lost. I could think of no negative critique unless you count the fact that the two main characters have Dawson’s Creek Syndrome where they’re teenagers who speak as if they were philosophers, but then again Bill Watterson did the same thing with a boy and a stuffed tiger.
You realize the story’s hamartia doesn’t matter. That the fact that the plot may be cliched is unimportant and that dwelling on such trivialities is in and of itself a fatal flaw. This story is so much more than the letters and words on each page. It’s the triumph of morning over night when the night grows ever longer. It’s the dream of hope when you’ve done nothing but dine on despair. It is sad? Yes. It is heartbreaking? More so. Is it worth reading? Has anything sad and heartbreaking not been worth reading? The story of Hazel and Augusts deserves to be read just as the story of Anna, her mother, and dear hamster Sisyphus deserves an ending, and that becomes their exploit to seek out reclusive Peter Van Houten so that the characters can be properly laid to rest and remembered.
The best stories are about memory.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fault In Our Stars pdf, by John Green
Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2016
My thoughts at 25%:
I’m so confused. Why is this book hilarious, with all its witty banter and thoughtful philosophy? Shouldn’t I be crying over the depth of the subject matter? Shouldn’t I be feeling broken by the abject loss of the power of death – the way it’s so all-consuming and doesn’t care who it touches or who it hurts? How is it that I keep smiling this delighted smile and laughing gleefully over the way these characters find joy in spite of their suffering? Maybe it’s the irony of Hazel’s cynicism, I don’t know.
My thoughts at 50%:
Okay. The end of Chapter 10? I can’t stop crying. Augustus is funny and smart and intellectually stimulating. He’s quick and clever and patient and gentle. But he’s also a little bit of a smartass and he’s impossibly fun. It’s brutally endearong, especially combined with Hazel’s matter of fact personality, her acceptance of life as what it is and not what she wishes it was. My emotions are so raw right now … I need a break from the story … And yet I cannot force myself to take one.
My thoughts at 75%:
I wear glasses because chronic dry eye syndrome gives me progressively horrifying eye fatigue, which blurs everything more and more the longer the day goes on. But right now I’m reading with my glasses off, and everything is a blur, because I can’t wear glasses while crying.
My thoughts at 100%:
I finished this book somewhat disappointed. I didn’t cry my way through the end, as I had expected to. But I read that last word, closed it out, and promptly burst into tears. For its appreciation of both life AND death, for its humor AND its realistic portrayal of devastation, for its twists AND its inevitable turns … For its lessons and its inspiration … Five stars.
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