Every week I write a book review, and every week our sportswriter Tad says to me, “That’s a book? I thought it was just a movie.”
Almost all good movies originated as a book, and I’m hard pressed to think of a movie that was better than the book.
Books just leave so much open to the imagination. When you see a movie, and the character you’d pictured as your aunt Sue is being portrayed by Meryl Streep – who, in fact, is nothing like your aunt Sue – it kind of ruins the whole movie. When reading the book, the characters can look like whoever you want them to look like.
When I read “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, I knew it was a movie starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, but I read the book before I saw the movie, which I always attempt to do – mostly so I can obnoxiously point out all the flaws in the movie to the unfortunate person who watches it with me. It just occurred to me that’s why people don’t like watching movies with me.
I did not know when I bought the book that it’s considered Young Adult, or YA as the kids call it, but it’s not written in some child-speak, “LOL” language that annoyed me or made it difficult to relate to.
The book, published in 2012, tells the story of Hazel and Augustus, teenagers who meet at a support group for kids with cancer. The kids are both quirky and highly intelligent. Hazel makes Augustus read her favorite book of all time and he convinces her parents to let him take her to meet the author, who turns out to be a real jerk.
Keep in mind they’re both sick, but it’s Hazel who has to carry around an oxygen tank and Augustus seems perfectly fine, until he isn’t.
Unless you have no soul, this book will likely tug at your heartstrings. It’s sweet and sad and deals with the almost unimaginable topic of chronically sick kids. Cancer is scary and sad enough when it’s taking over the body of a great-grandmother, but it’s even harder to wrap one’s brain around the disease affecting a child.
In spite of the somber subject, the book is also pretty funny. It’s a pretty quick and easy read, not so much because it’s written in the YA genre, but because it has a good, flowing storyline and the reader wants to know what happens next. I started it on a plane to Pennsylvania, read a few chapters while visiting my friend there and finished it on the way home. That’s a quick turnaround for me, but I’d recommend not reading it in the company of strangers, unless you like people to watch you ugly cry.
It earns five out of five stars for me, and revisiting it makes me want to look into to some of Green’s other novels.
What’s on your bookshelf? Share your recommendations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.