This book review is part of series of reviews written by students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their 7th grade English classes.
Two sick teenagers, destined to fall in love. Even if love is a powerful force, so is cancer, and in the small amount of time left for the two teens, Hazel and Augustus, love is what is keeping them alive. In The Fault In Our Stars, bestselling novelist John Green illustrates cancer in deeply moving, yet at times light-hearted, words. He mixes young love and the possibility of death into an emotional and memorable novel.
The story of their love is told by Hazel, a sixteen year-old girl with lung cancer, and surviving by luck with Phalanxifor, a drug that is designed to stop the growth of cancer cells, but it doesn’t work with seventy percent of the people who use it. In Hazel’s life, she sees her job description as “Having Cancer,” but Augustus Waters helps her realize that she can still love without causing pain.
Cancer Kid Support Group is where the sparks fly in this book, and where Augustus and Hazel first meet. Augustus Waters, known to his friends as “Gus,” is a seventeen year-old boy who has cancer in his leg and had to get it amputated years before. Gus walks with a prosthetic leg, but every time someone asks him how he’s doing, he replies “grand,” even when he is stuck inside hospital walls. Gus is what made this novel the most memorable because of his charm, sense of humor, and absolute compassion towards Hazel.
The Fault In Our Stars is also filled with other characters such as Hazel’s mother and Isaac, who not only help to make the story more real, but also show different types of personalities. Hazel’s mom is just another one of those protective, caring, and emotional mothers’ who will do anything for her child. Isaac has eye cancer and struggles with the fact that even people he loves end up betraying him when he is sick or in pain. Isaac is a interesting character and friend to Gus throughout the book.
Hazel admires and even idolizes an author named Peter Van Houten, who wrote a book called An Imperial Affliction. This book that he wrote was about an eight year-old girl with cancer, and has a huge meaning to Hazel’s life. More importantly, the true significance to the book is that it brings Hazel and Augustus together. Hazel has been wanting to meet him all her life, and when Augustus comes in, her wishes become reality. Only Hazel and Augustus understand the meaning of An Imperial Affliction. Their discussions of the book add an interesting element, and also develop their passion for each other.
Overall, Augustus Waters is truly the most important part of this novel. Without him, this book would just be another average story about how a teen girl had cancer, but add in Augustus, and not only do you get brilliant thoughts from him, but also a classic love story that will bring you to tears. Even when Hazel is at her worst, Augustus stays in the hospital waiting room for hours because he loves her. Augustus said once to Hazel, “Don’t tell me you’re one of those people who becomes their disease. I know so many people like that. It’s disheartening” (32). Without Augustus, Hazel would have drowned in her own thoughts of living with cancer, and never truly experienced life while she was on Earth.
Despite Hazel having negative emotions towards her disease and her life, she did have her moments, and I found that she was incredibly intelligent and thought-provoking. One day, when Hazel was contemplating her life and the old sad, swing set sitting in her backyard she said, “I tried to tell myself that it could be worse, that the world is not a wish-granting factory, that I was living with cancer not dying of it, that I mustn’t let it kill me before it kills me…” (121). This is a larger theme in the story: you mustn’t let your pain or sickness take your life away before it actually takes your life away; instead, focus on loving other people.
The Fault In Our Stars deserves one of the greatest recommendations I could give about a novel, and I would read this book all over again. The word choice and different, yet intriguing, emotions and interactions with other characters puts you right in the story. It leaves you with a new outlook on love and your relationships with others. John Green creates a new form of “forbidden” love in this novel, and Augustus Waters, who feared oblivion said, “That’s what bothers me the most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave my mark.” I strongly recommend that if you want to know what happens in the end with Hazel and Augustus, read this book. It will leave its mark on you.
-Madeline H., 7th grade