As I mentioned in a previous post, I discovered John Green because of the book he co-wrote with David Levithan, whom I’ve admired for some time. Will Grayson, Will Grayson was such an interesting read that I had to find out who was on the other side of that book. John Green did not disappoint. I now recommend all of his books regularly. The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books, $17.99) has been getting an enormous amount of attention over the past year, but it took me until the summer to get around to reading it. I knew it was going to be good; Green’s books always are. I did, however, wonder just a little if it would live up to all the hype.
It was better.
John Green gets it. He writes characters that precisely capture the transitional voice of teenagers poised between childhood and adulthood. In Hazel, he has created a character who has endured more than most adults, but retains the snarky running commentary that is pure adolescence. Hazel has lived most of her life on the edge of death. Although a Cancer Survivor — she mocks the melodramatic weight that people often use when discussing Serious Medical Conditions — Hazel is perpetually aware of her truncated life-span. Reluctant to get too close to anyone, because she repeatedly witnesses the pain of those who have lost a family member or friend, Hazel is unprepared for one Augustus Waters to bounce into her life. Her attempts to protect him prove futile and she ends up discovering why it’s never worth denying someone the pain of loving you.