Well, I almost kept my goals a full week (technically today is the 8th and therefore I’ve already failed the “blog every week” standard). Can you give me some credit for trying, though? After I post this little snippet of goodness, I will head to Tim’s apartment so we can blog some more! Double-doozey tonight.
To begin with: I just finished reading John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars”. Touted as “luminous” and “an instant classic” by critics, I was curious about what made this particular young adult novel so special. I began casually reading it on my Kindle at the Indianapolis airport, waiting for my plane back to Los Angeles. When the commanding voice over the loudspeaker instructed us to get in line with our boarding passes, I switched to reading it on the Kindle App on my iphone. Once on the plane, I switched back to my Kindle. I literally could not peel my eyes from the page.
“The Fault in our Stars” is not a long book. I read the last page at home the next evening, after a long day of getting-back-into-the-swing-of-work. John Green is very precise in what he is trying to accomplish. The narrator is a girl of sixteen with terminal cancer. She meets a boy in her Support Group who fought with the disease and lost his leg in the battle. While some might call it a story of young love, I certainly don’t want to brush it off as a tragic Romeo and Juliet tale. Green does an excellent job of toying with our emotions, while making very keen points about pain, suffering, and creating victims out of people who do not want that label.
One of the more poignant moments for me occurred after Hazel’s parents encouraged her (again) to make some friends and get out more. She turns to her loving, well-intentioned parents and says, “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” She knows the effect she will have on others when she passes; she knows she will “scar” many hearts. In our society, we have made it very clear that pain is something to avoid at all costs. We have medicines to ease physical pain, drugs and alcohol to relieve mental tension, we become reclusive in order to avoid social turmoil and hurtful words. Yet, as Augustus tells Hazel at one point: “That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.” We cannot condemn pain; we have to engage it or else we will ultimately lose any ability to understand it.
While the content is heady, the context which Green sets his story in is witty, engaging, and ultimately enjoyable. I can use the word “enjoyable” because even through the sorrow and sadness, there is ever-present hope and truth. I highly recommend this novel to both young and old alike. To end with another favorite quote from the book (ending with a quote! my English teachers would kill me):
“‘Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”