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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

(Note: V. emotional review!)

Like so many others, cancer has affected my life immensely.  Not that long ago, the numbers of those whose lives had been greatly altered by this disease were much lower -- but now, almost everyone has suffered from the many pains of cancer.  My father was diagnosed with leukemia six years ago and after cancer took his health and his adored job as a firefighter, it threatened to take his life.  He underwent a bone marrow transplant in late 2010.  My family held our breath for months, watching my dad suffer through one flu or infection after another.  His immune system was obliterated for the surgery and took nearly a year to stabilize.  Now, seventeen months later, my dad is finally getting his stride back.

This is a common story.  The story that is not commonly told, however, is the story of what happens to a person in the in-between.  The months my dad spent in the hospital and my mom spent living in a hotel down the street just to be close to him, were devastating.  I feel like I aged tremendously during this period of my life; absolutely terrified but being as much of an adult as I could so that my dad knew I could handle seeing his excessive weight-loss and the tubes that reached into his shirt and burrowed through his skin, into his heart.  There was so much about what happened to my dad emotionally during this time that I just didn't understand.  I reacted and responded, but I didn't understand.

John Green helped me understand.

This book was almost like a lifeline to me.  All the times I wondered why my dad wanted to be alone in his room or the times he said things that didn't make sense to me.  I feel like all of a sudden, I get it.  Green creates characters, more real than you can possibly imagine.  Hazel, regardless of her age, was so similar to my dad -- it shocked me, both in emotions and attitude.  Even her snarky remarks that made me laugh out loud made me think of my dad's funny sense of humour.  She is sick, and knows that her life is being stretched thin and doesn't want to cause anyone more pain then she has to.  Until she falls in love with Augustus Waters.

Augustus was one of the most enjoyable characters I have ever read.  I laughed more in this book than I did in books MEANT to be humour reads.  He was witty, honest and such a total nerd.  He was the perfect character.  Even Isaac, his best friend, was wonderfully written.  Isaac, oh my god, you broke my heart.  I can't tell you why.  Just read the book and you'll know.

I don't even want to tell you anything about the actual plot.  These characters had burrowed into my heart and unlike the tube's from my dad's chest, they will NOT be removed.  I do not re-read books often, but I will re-read this.  I will also make everyone I know who has ever had cancer affect their lives read this (...and everyone else too).  Hazel, Augustus and Isaac were literary heroes to me, just like my father is my real life hero.  Hazel's parents deserve an award too.  Regardless of the box or two of kleenex I went through, this book healed my heart a little.  It encapsulates and captivates.

John Green, thank you for helping me understand.  This book stole my heart and I haven't quite got it back.

6 comments:

Ikhlas said...

Wow, great review, Chelsey! Definitely an emotional one. I'm so glad your dad is okay now, and can't even begin to imagine what you and your family have gone through.

I don't have any personal connections to cancer (thank God), but a hoping to understand people's struggles with it more when reading this book.

Really great review...read something cheerful next :)

Maja said...

You just made me cry...

I agree with you, just about everybody today lost someone precious to them, but unfortunately, that doesn't make your pain any easier. (Or mine, for that matter.) Understanding does, however, and I'm so happy you were able to get that with a little help from John Green.

I enjoyed this book too, laughed and cried and ok, maybe even sobbed uncontrollably, but what I appreciated the most was the feeling of achievement I got from it. I felt somehow richer for having read it.

I'm so, so glad your father is feeling better now. I have no words that can do your review justice, really.

Chelsey said...

Thanks Ikhlas =). I wouldn't say I went to something cheerful lol. THE HUNGER GAMES!

And Maja, thank you, thank you, thank you! I agree with you 100% about the richer feeling. I understand that completely. Sorry for making you cry lol *hands tissue and hug*.

Hannah said...

What a wonderful review!! I'm so happy that your Dad is coming along great now. For me, not having that connection like you or others do, might change the way I read this book, but I think that your review has definitely convinced me to pick it up and actually get on with reading it!!!

Natalie said...

Omg Chelsey! This was the most beautiful reviews I have ever read. I'm sitting at my computer right now trying not to cry. Im definitely picking up this book tonight off my shelf and starting to read it. I've lost two great men in my family to cancer, and my own Dad was lucky enough to beat it back in 2001, so I was scared that the book would make me too emotional. Knowing that John Green helped you to understand what your dad was going through though has motivated me to start reading! Hopefully I will be able to gain some insight and understanding as well.

annalisa said...

Beautiful review, and I love the picture of you and your dad. My brother had a brain tumor, but his case was never that serious that we got to this point. Glad your dad could heal and that this book helped you understand what he was going through. I agree that it was so honest and real.

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