This novel arrived at the beginning of the year in hardcover, and for some reason I just didn’t get around to reading it. Even though it received tons of great reviews and I was drawn to it, it stayed on my nightstand pile for a few months. It was only when a customer picked it up and said with her hand on her heart “oh, I read this one” and then just tapped her heart twice “ugh, so beautiful”, that I decided to put it on the top of my pile…
Sixteen- year-old Hazel spends most of her time reading the same book over and over, doesn’t like to leave her house, isn’t interested in eating and thinks about death a lot. Her mother says she’s depressed. Yes, well, no kidding. In many ways, Hazel is just like any other teenager, except she has cancer and isn’t expected to live much longer.
Doctor Jim, and Hazel’s mom both agree she should attend a weekly Support Group. Hazel finds this support group “depressing as hell”. She tells her mother “If you want me to be a teenager, don’t send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot.” Her mom’s reply: ” You’re going to Support Group”.
Even though Support Group is depressing ( will some of them die? ), there are some very good things that happen too. One of them is the gorgeous Augustus Waters, who ends up changing Hazel’s life in a very profound way. He’s not gorgeous just because he’s hot. He’s gorgeous because he’s funny, smart, sweet and basically the perfect boyfriend. Except, he too is dying.
Let me first say that John Green is a genius. This is the kind of story that made me laugh and ugly cry at the same time, and I will definitely re-read it, just because he really is a great writer and I want to hear some of his phrases again. I loved Hazel and Augustus. They “got” each other in a way that wasn’t sappy. Not like obnoxious couples who are joined at the hip and digest each others food (sorry Bella). I really believed the characters and cared about how they felt and what they thought. I liked the frankness in their dialogue. It was refreshing to read a YA title that wasn’t dystopian, paranormal or about totally depressing issues. Of course, the inevitability of death is depressing, but somehow John Green makes it okay.
Why didn’t I read this sooner? And now I will definitely read all three of his other titles – Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines.
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