If you know me, you will know 4 things.
1. I love John Green’s books. Like all time favorites categories.
2. I love books that will gut me and make me cry. (Ya know, except in public).
3. Cancer is a hard subject for me to read about for personal reasons I have shared but I tend to do it anyways.
4. I have never read The Fault In Our Stars.
So you might be thinking…so why have you just now read it? Wouldn’t this have been high on your list of books to read?
Why, yes, yes it was. I pre-ordered my copy. I could not wait. So what was the problem?
1. It’s always scary, while exciting, when a favorite author comes out with a new book. Amirite?
2. I don’t shy away from “cancer stories” despite the fact they gut me every time but it’s John Green and I know how his words have the ability to rip me apart, to make me get really inside my head thinking about Big Things and how they just always move me and become lodged in my heart and mind. I just wasn’t sure I could handle it and I psyched myself up.
3. I probably would have gotten over psyching myself out over it but then the HYPE. It spread like wildfire. And all the comments about how people ugly cried and could not live life and all that. If I wasn’t already building it up in my head before NOW I REALLY WAS. I was so scared I wasn’t going to be able to function afterwards. And then the movie news?? Pretty much my expectations for TFIOS were so beyond unmanageable that I just tried to conveniently forget about it on my shelf.
I decided I was going to finally read this book in 2014, before the movie came out, and even put it on my TBR list. But then I got an awesome email inviting me to participate in a John Green interview via the phone and I was like SELF. Let’s do this. Let’s finally read this book. This seems like motivation enough to woman up and sit down with the book you had been anticipating for freaking forever.
So I pulled it off my shelf. Told nobody I was reading it because I didn’t want all the opinions or OMG I CRIED SO HARD because I would get scared off undoubtedly. And I did it.
So here we are…I have just closed the book and the first thing I’ve done is walk over to this computer to get my thoughts down. Okay, that’s a lie. The first thing I did was grab many tissues because tears weren’t the only thing running down my face — yep, TMI, but I had a river of snot just flowing out my nose. My emotions are all over the place. I’m a hot mess. Nope not even hot right now with my red eyes and my snotty nose. Just a mess.
So what did I think?
1. I loved it. I did. The story and the characters just defeated that hype monster and let me forget that anyone had talked about this book. It almost felt like I was the only person in the world who had read it. It was powerful, funny and sweet and made me think in the way his books tend to. I was gutted and devastated over Gus for sure but there was also this smile on my face, perhaps was hard to see through the tears so it probably looked more like a grimace, because life is so beautiful even when it’s really, really awful and unfair and sad. To take from Hazel’s dad…it’s such a privilege we have to be able to love the ones we love. Even when it can’t and won’t last forever.
2. I love so much that it wasn’t some cliched “cancer story” with the typical platitudes you see — it made an impact without being obviously inspirational. There are all sorts of stories and they are all important and serve a purpose. I love inspiring stories of all kinds but I was glad that TFIOS wasn’t that. It was about so much more than having cancer or “fighting the good fight”. These characters felt real and not defined by this though it was a part of who they were — they were full of life and cared about normal teen things. It was about life and love and how to live a brave and heroic life without living a Brave and Heroic Life. John Green, like always, manages to capture these amazing and thought-provoking truths in a way that is so subtle and so profound. I found myself thinking A LOT — about how I want to live, what I want to be known for and what, at the end of the day, truly is a well-lived life — a huge topic in The Fault In Our Stars because Gus and Hazel don’t always agree on that.
3. It’s hard to say whether or not this is my favorite John Green novel or not. I feel like Looking For Alaska still holds that spot but TFIOS is a close second. And honestly it’s hard to know, had I read it earlier on with no expectations, would it have been in that spot? Who knows! All I know is that I loved it fiercely.
4. My fear was misplaced for sure. I should have just read the damn book when I pre-ordered it. It contained sadness but my overall feeling was not SAD. A few parts wrecked me but the whole book did not wreck my soul like I thought it would. I was worried that much of this book would really chronicle the sickness part and be really vivid and intense there and it wasn’t. It was about them living their life with this cancer. Sure, it was real and raw and made my heart ache many times but it was also beautiful and uplifting and not at all what I had envisioned.
5. God there are so many quoteable lines. Like always, John Green makes me want to dogear like mad. And YEAH I DID (because I do things like that).
Moral of the story: I’m an idiot for building a mountain of fear around this book. I’m so, so glad I finally read it and think you should too if you haven’t already. Just rip the band-aid off if you’ve been afraid like me! It was emotional but I’m still here — whole and okay! It was everything I could have hoped for the latest John Green book to be and maybe even more. Honestly? I want to reread it already. AND OMG I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THE MOVIE!!! (AND CRY MY EYES OUT)
Tell me about your TFIOS experience — good or bad!! Are you another one, like me, who has been holding off on reading it?? RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU ARE EXCITED FOR THE FAULT IN OUR STARS MOVIE!!