Dear readers, do any of you have that movie that you love to rewatch but cannot bring yourself all the way to the end because you know how it ends? For me, that movie is Moulin Rouge and I’d say about half the times I watch it, I will stop it ten minutes before the ending. That way, I’m ensuring that all the characters can live happily ever after in my mind.
This is what I was reminded of as I read John Green’s brilliant new novel “The Fault in Our Stars.” It recounts the tale of Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers who find love in the midst of living with cancer. And I do emphasize “living with” and not “dying from.” Green very much emphasizes one’s ability to live a full and complete life, even if that life did not turn out to be a particularly long one. So many people want to live a life that leaves a mark, something that will be remembered forever. But as Green so eloquently put it, “There will come a time when there are no more human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed… There was a time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be a time after. And if the inevitability of human consciousness worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. ” It may seem a little pessimistic but when you have a protagonist who probably will not see her twentieth birthday, it really drives the point home that the goal should not be to be remembered but to live a life that mattered to those around you.
I took my time with this novel. I usually devour Green’s novels the day they are released but it took me a good two weeks to get through this one. Green’s novels usually pack and emotional punch but reading TFioS made me feel assaulted by emotions (in a good way of course.) You can find yourself crying one one page and laughing a few paragraphs later. And in my case, frequently laughing and crying simultaneously. And as I got closer and closer to the end, I read slower and less frequently. Just like with Satine and Christian, if I didn’t quite make it to the end I could pretend that Hazel and Augustus lived long lives making funny Venn Diagrams and having picnics in the park.
The Fault in Our Stars tackles many complex issues brilliantly and in painfully funny ways. Be sure to have tissues handy.