Monday, December 30, 2013

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

A young friend loaned me this book a few months ago, and I read it and immediately liked it. As time has passed, this book has built a snug little fort in my mind.  I cannot forget it.

John Green tells the love story of Hazel and Augustus, two teens with terminal cancer, whose lives are circumscribed by the disease's capriciousness, but whose minds are not.  They meet in a support group, and each is drawn to the other's intellect, wit, and, yes, looks.  Each has a physical beauty that cancer cannot capture, even though it took Augustus' leg and Hazel's lung function.

They fall in love with each other slowly, gradually, within a short period of time. As Hazel says, “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”   They don't have much time together, but the days spent in Augustus' basement and a trip to Amsterdam together stretch out into delicious eternity.  What makes this book "pop," is the character's spot-on dialogue and philosophical wrangling with larger questions about life, death, time, love. Everything, essentially.  Especially, the situation they share~death's presumptiveness, rather than life's~bonds them.

Let me stress here: The Fault in Our Stars is not a sad book. I cried at the end, but that just may be me, because the main theme is joy.  Joy in reading, friendship, travel, and humor (making cancer the butt of its own joke).  Hazel and Augustus (and their appealing blind friend Isaac) live fully in this book. 

The Fault in Our Stars shows the infinite in the finite, and it succeeds in a most appealing way.  All any of us have is each day and its circumscribed minutes. To find joy in these meted out portions is an art; focusing on now, not then, is the craft. Hazel and Augustus are masters at this craft and can teach the reader, if she is not too afraid to listen.