I really hated this book!
Don't get me wrong. It's very well-written. But that's the problem. It was TOO well-written.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS expressed, much too clearly, my own fears and issues, as I deal with my brain tumor on a daily basis. I knew this was going to be a hard book for me to read. I actually try to avoid cancer-themed books as much as possible, though most of the cancer books I've read contain a cast of characters making such melodramatic choices in order to "beat" cancer or to "live their final days to the fullest" that I can roll my eyes and remind myself that it's not really like that. I suspected that wouldn't be the case with THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, and I didn't really want to read it. But so many people recommended it to me that I finally decided to give it a try. (I recently started new medication, and I'm relatively pain-free for the first time in years, so it's easier to pretend that my brain tumor doesn't really exist this week.)
I chose to listen to the audio book instead of reading the paper version, because I knew I wouldn't be able to listen to my own voice as the narrator. And I'm so glad that I did it this way! Because even with the irreverent, snarky narrator, who sounds nothing like my inner voice, I had a hard time getting through this book. I had to stop repeatedly and turn to a very dry, kind of boring, non-fiction book, just to give my mind a rest from the intense feelings this novel brought up.
Like Augustus Waters, one of my biggest fears is oblivion. What if I die before I have a chance to make a grand, positive impact on the world? What if I never get to be the important author who touches the lives of millions, or even dozens, of people?
And like Hazel Grace, my other fear is that I could be a grenade. I want to live a life that touches those around me and leaves joy and laughter behind. But what if I let people rely on me too deeply and my passing only brings sorrow and tears? What if...
I don't like to ponder these what ifs too deeply.
And I kind of hate John Green right now for making me face the questions I'd rather avoid.
Because, when my daughter hears someone talking about death or dying, and she dissolves into tears because she's certain that Mommy might be next, I'd rather make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and cuddle on the couch with a silly movie and the promise that, even if I died right this minute, we will still be forever connected as an eternal family than admit that I sometimes lie awake at night with the same fear.
For anyone who wants to step into the mind of a person dealing with a terminal illness, for those who want to know what it feels like, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is the perfect book to read. Because John Green masterfully illustrates the ups and downs, the fears and the hopes. It's really an amazing book. And I'm glad I finally read it.
But don't ask me to read it again.