Based, once again, on the YALSA teen top ten nominations, I requested this book from the library.
Let me preface this by saying that I do not generally like sad books. When all my peers were reading Lurlene McDaniel and weeping through puberty, I was reading Nancy Drew and anything with a mystery to be solved. When I realized that this was going to be a *sad book*, I didn't even think about stopping: Hazel and Augustus had already captivated me, with their quirky wit and their ill health.
Hazel is something of a cancer miracle, having survived an infestation of cancer thanks to an experimental drug. Still, it's never a question of recovery: she's waiting to see how long she has left with the full knowledge that her cancer will not ever go into remission. Understandably, she's depressed (a side effect of dying, she tells the reader, not of cancer), and her mom forces her to attend a weekly support group for teens.
That's where she meets Augustus, and for a short time, Hazel's world is exactly what she wants it to be.
I wept quietly on the couch while finishing this book last night, and it was beautiful. Hazel and Augustus feel genuine, although the novel is very self-aware: the characters feel real in that they are real in a book, and that's the way John Green wants it. (His author's note, placed at the beginning of the book, admonishes readers not to look for truth in the story: it is a work of fiction, and should be allowed to be amazing as such.)
This is a really powerful read, and I enjoyed stepping out of my usual action packed genres to read something of resonance.
Check in with the other 100 books participants and see what they are reading this month.
Do you prefer to read realistic stories or fantasies? Is it easier for you to encounter sadness in the pages of a book or in real life?