The Best Book You Will Ever Read ~ TFIOS by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars By John Green Rating: 5++ (GUARANTEED TEARJERKER) My great-aunt's father-in-law, a jovial Italian, used to have a favourite saying of his - "How are you tomorrow?" He used to ask it with genuine feeling and curiosity, waiting for you answer as he sat in his usual chair, my great-aunt's dog Sam curled up at his slippered feet. At the time, I never understood it. I used to tug at my mother's hand and say, "Mum - how can you know how you'll be tomorrow?" My mother brought up the memory to me a few months back and she said to me, "He was telling us, in his own way, that there is a tomorrow. That though there is now, and the present moment that we're stuck in, that this moment will move on and we will see and live in tomorrow." Now, being older, I find this idea bittersweet and it is with this quaint saying and the feeling that it brings, that I will try my hardest to reviewThe Fault in Our Starswith justice. I decided to start the book today, bringing it with me as I clambered into the back of my family's car - trying to concentrate on the story amid the sound ofHarry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, which my younger sibling were watching. Immediately, I fell in love with the main character Hazel - her brutally honest analysis of her situation, the world and others utterly refreshing in comparison to the fake and mass-produced view of the world that we are so often fed by the media. It would be so easy to start off this review with'Hazel, a fighter of cancer...', or,'Hazel, a girl battling with cancer...' It would probably save me a lot of time and effort - I wouldn't have to analyse her in depth. But that's where that kind of description is just wrong. Because Hazel is so much more than a girl 'with cancer'. One of the most striking features about her is that she is simply a girl. Normal. Sure, she has cancer, but that doesn't make her any less of a person, or make her the person she is. I especially loved how Hazel referred to depression as "A side effect of cancer" and cancer as "a side effect of dying". I know I'm probably losing you, but I just wanted to be clear: she isn't Superwoman. She isn't battling cancer in an awe-inspiring way. She isn't your typical 'Nicholas Sparks cancer fighter'. She is a girl with a story - a raw, painful, but with flashes of sunlight and bubbly champagne, story of a girl who met a boy and who decided to read books, be loved and love in return. I had just read where Hazel met Augustus for the first time when our car pulled up at the Australian Museum. It was here at the museum where John Green's genius really came to life for me. I was in one of those 'discovery' rooms, and I came across rows and rows of wooden drawers, all with neat little labels. Looking closer, I read the words 'Butterflies', 'Spiders', 'Moths', etc. Being a butterfly gal, I opened the one marked 'Butterflies' first, and stared down into a collection of beautifully coloured butterflies, pinned in neat rows. I looked to my left and saw a few little children gawking at another draw of butterflies...and felt a little sick. I couldn't explain it. It was as if I couldn't quite believe that this was it. I stared at one butterfly in particular - one with turquoise wings, with delicate eye-patterns marking the tips of each wing. And I thoughtIs this really it? Such a beautiful creature has it's life cut short simply to be forever trapped on a pin, in a draw in a dusty museum? And people will think "Gees, this butterfly is so pretty! Oh, look at its wings!" No one will ever think, "Maybe this butterfly had better things to do than just sit there and look nice." Because in this life, often the most beautiful things aren't seen. We ignore them. We overlook them. We refuse to face them. This does not mean I hate museums, or insect displays! It was simply drawing a comparison between the display andThe Fault in Our Stars. Hazel's heart (in a not-so-literal sense) is quite like the butterflies I spotted today. She doesn't allow it to live, to be free - she refers to herself as a 'grenade', because she accepts that when she dies, she will probably hurt those around her and close to her. She's also cautious of allowing Augustus to be with her and to love her. One of the sweetest sentiments 'Gus' expresses to her is "Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you." Lives are meant to be lived. Lungs are meant for breathing. Eyes are meant to see. And hearts are meant to be used, too. Love is meant to be expressed and sometimes it is painful. Sometimes when it is stolen from you, you will be left breathless and stricken - but it is always worth it. Augustus' message is always clear to Hazel - that everything is worth it, and that you do not have to do extraordinary things to be extraordinary and beautiful. Even if you don't leave an 'impact' of the world, you can still be an extraordinary person and can be remembered for simply being. This is not a cancer story. This is not a sappy romance about two kids who fall in love and have to deal with the tragedy which is cancer. No. This is a story about a girl named Hazel, who was sixteen and 'Okay' - and who met a boy named Augustus who smoked unlit cigarettes, liked watchingV for Vendettaand didn't understand that the point of videogames was to win, not to sacrifice the player's life to save the prisoners. Them falling in love is not the point. Them fighting cancer is not the point. The point is that they both liked books, drank champagne, disliked 'literal hearts' and found beauty amidst the foggy chaos of everyday life. They lived. It reminded me of a part of a Sarah McLachlan song I once heard: "I will remember you. Will you remember me? Don't let your life pass you by. Weep not for the memories."