I finished The Marriage Plot and Wuthering Heights right at the beginning of the year, and then I took up John Green's latest. I don't want to post too much because I know so many people are reading the book. Also, it was just so good, there's not a whole lot to say, or maybe, I am just not sure what to say. In short, you are immediately in love with Hazel Grace Lancaster from the moment you read the first sentence. This character is unique and real. What she says about life and her disease is honest and funny and terrifying all at the same time. I knew I would probably shed a tear or two at the end of the book...I mean, how can you not? It's a Cancer Kid book, right? When I read Jenny Downham's Before I Die, I was weeping at the end. But what shocked me was that I teared up multiple times throughout, and then, of course, I was sobbing at the very end. But I thought that this was fitting. I mean who wouldn't cry all the time (like Hazel's dad) if you were going through all of this. It's sad. I am just so amazed at how Green got me to feel so much for these characters. I also love how books like this help you put your life into perspective. What I love about literature and this book is that we read it and we experience something that we might never experience in all our days. It's tragic...but like the classic definition of tragedy....it enlarges and ennobles us. We are better for having witnessed what happened to these characters and we can appreciate our own lives and the relationships we have.
One last thing I will say I loved about this book was the fact that Hazel was just around her parents and her few good friends. So many kids and adults today are so concerned with the appearance of being busy and involved in every freakin' activity possible. Sometimes I feel like kids and grown-ups might feel like if they aren't getting straight A's AND playing three sports AND being really popular AND taking music lessons on the side AND volunteering five million hours a week AND finding time to still cook and read for pleasure AND maintaining a perfectly positive attitude all the time....then they aren't doing enough. But you know, that's just not true. I think this book shows that what matters is relationships and family. Basketball wasn't that important to Augustus. And the people who knew he played or knew him in high school didn't really KNOW him. What matters is knowing people and appreciating them for exactly who they are. Conversations matter. Time with people matters. Friendships and relationships matter. Not all that other stuff. Not that that stuff is bad, but it's not always that important. I recommend this book to every person in the entire world. It's a great story with a great narrator and great characters and a great message. LOVED it. I did.