- Title: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2
- Publisher: Penguin Books, New York, 2012
- Age: 14+
Teaser: Two teenager, both terminally ill, fall in love while looking for The Fault in Our Stars.
Plot: “The fault, Dear Brutes is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings” by Shakespeare is where John Green got the title for his new book. It is about a young girl, named Hazel who is terminally ill with what started out as thyroid cancer and now has settled into her lungs. Her mother believes she is depressed, like if you were dying you wouldn’t be, and makes her attend a support group where she begins a friendship with a couple of boys. One who has cancer in his eyes, and is going blind named Isaac and his friend Augustus, who had a little touch of osteosarcoma a year earlier and lost one of his legs but is currently in remission. Hazel and Augustus instantly hit it off and go to Augustus’s house to watch a movie, where they discuss their favorite books and each promise to read the others. Hazel’s favorite book is by a fictional author named Peter Van Houten and his book is title, An Imperial Affliction. Hazel is fascinated with the book whose main character also has cancer and seems to be living a normal life, until the book just end’s mid-sentence, indicating the girl’s death. Hazel has tried unsuccessfully to reach the author to find out about the characters in the book that remain alive after the girls dies, but Augustus was able to contact the author and was told he would answer the teens questions regarding the book if they came to Amsterdam. Augustus decides to use his “wish” from the Make a Wish Foundation for terminally ill kids to get them there. Once there, Peter Van Houten is extremely rude to the teens causing them to walk out of the meeting. Once they return home from Amsterdam, Augustus admits his cancer has returned, full-blown and he is not expected to live much longer. Hazel does not exactly handle it well, but that is expected.
Critical Review: John Green brings his readers on a path throughout The Fault in our Stars of laughter and sadness. One of his major themes in the book is that of acceptances. The two main characters have cancer, and need to accept that their family’s lives will never be the same with them gone. Yet, both Hazel and Augustus is on a mission to meet the notorious Peter Van Houten who can tell them the ending of his book An Imperial Affliction. The two are hoping that the conclusion of his book that was never written will be one where the remaining characters have a happy life after the death of their daughter. In this way, Green illustrates the needs of Hazel and Augustus for reassurance that their families will have a happy life when they too are gone. The tone Green uses in his novel changes from a light hearted beginning to a gloomy end after Augustus becomes extremely ill. Hazel is having difficulty dealing with her friend’s illness in the face of her own, and does not want to lose him. Green teaches his readers that there are not always happy endings, but that life must go on for those who remain. Teens will be touched by his story, and moved by both Hazel and Augustus’s courage and their determination to reach Amsterdam despite their illness.
About the Author: John Green is an award-winning author who grew up in Orlando, Florida and attended Indian Springs School, a boarding school in Birmingham, Alabama. He has won both the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award and a 2009 Edgar Award winner and has been nominated two times for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Johngreen.com, 2012). He currently lives in Indiana with his wife Sarah and their son Henry.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Death, Disability, and Disease/Coming of Age
Challenge Issues: None found, only great comments about how the characters are very witty despite their health issues.
Library Bill of Rights: American Library Association, retrieve from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/
Challenge Materials: American Library Association, retrieve from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations/challengedmaterials
Book-talk Idea: Learning how to deal with a life threatening illness, and realizing you will never get to grow up like everyone else.
Book Included: This book was included because it truly is one of the best Young Adult books I read that deal with some really tough issues that face many teens today.
Find on YouTube:
Johngreen.com. (2012). John Green’s Biography.