Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars (TFIOS): An Insightful Depiction Of Teens Living With Serious Illness

I have to confess that even though I am a grown woman I seem to like many young adult–teenage books (I am still seventeen at heart). I am frequently asking my daughter and nieces about books they enjoyed when I’m looking for something to read. So far the books I have read include some teenage love stories happening in a futuristic dystopia in which the main characters are at risk of dying because of being in a arena fighting other children like in the hunger games; or being at risk of getting injured while performing difficult stunts like jumping from a train like in the divergent series.

The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) by John Green is also about teens who fall in love and who are actually dying because they both have cancer. The book is narrated from the perspective of Hazel Lancaster a teenage girl with stage IV thyroid cancer metastatic to the lungs. Hazel uses a nasal cannula connected to an oxygen tank because her “lungs suck at being lungs”.  

At the insistence of her parents she reluctantly attends a youth Cancer Support Group.  “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.” 

However things drastically change when a gorgeous boy named Augustus “Gus” Waters suddenly appears at support group.  Augustus Waters is seventeen, he has osteosarcoma and had part of a leg amputated. Gus and Hazel connect and the romance slowly blossoms.  

The book portrays the relationships of Hazel and Gus with each other, with their parents/family, healthcare professionals, healthy kids, and other “cancer kids” while they live their limited life the best they can.  It is clear how serious illness affects the already difficult teenage years. 

Below are some “palliative” and quality of life (love) related quotes from the book:
  •  “There are a number of ways to establish someone's survival expectation without actually asking.  I used the classic "so are you in school?” Generally parents pull you out of school at some point if they expect you to bite in. “
  •  “Cancer perks are the little things cancer kids get that regular kids don’t” Hazel 
  •  “Depression is a side effect of dying.” Hazel
  •  “That's the thing about pain...it demands to be felt.” Hazel 
  •  “I already told you my story. I was diagnosed when-“  “No,  not your cancer story. Your story. Interests , hobbies, passions, weird fetiches, etcetera” 
  •  “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once,” Hazel

  • 
    Okay
    “Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.” Gus 
  •  I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. 
  • “Maybe 'okay' will be our 'always” 
  • “You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”- Hazel 
  • “That’s part of what I like about the book in some ways. It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence”
The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful story about love and life. I would like to tell you more but I am afraid I would just spoil it for you. Get it and read it for yourself! you will laugh, smile, cry... feel. You won’t be disappointed.

Ok so now I’m a fan of John Green and he calls his fans “nerd fighters”. I really loved TFIOS and I wanted to keep getting more!
  
So here are other things you can do (save some for after reading the book):

  1. You can follow John Green on twitter @realjohngreen
  2. You can follow John Green on youtube and watch some quirky videos  
  3. Listen to the The Fault In Our Stars  Music Video inspired by TFIOS book by Troye Sivan.


     4. Read the lyrics  of the song in #3 they are just inspiring.
     5. You can re-read TFIOS wonderful quotes here. (spoiler alert )
     6. Read the Q & A with John Green about TFIOS (spoiler alert)
     7.  Gather some friends and have a book club. (spoiler alert)
     8.  Learn about Esther Earl, to whom TFIOS is dedicated.  Esther was a teenager who had Thyroid cancer and developed an online community of friends by video blogging. Esther was a nerdfighter who died of cancer in August of 2010. She and John Green were friends. Watch Esther's YouTube videos here and learn about the organization her family set up in her memory.  

Below is a video of John Green with Esther

John Green Announces Esther's death
  References



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