I was sitting in recovery in a comfy recliner, my dad sitting on my right side, Mom on the left. The surgeon came in with news. I already had an inkling as to what he would say; after all, I had been awake in the operating room. My mom burst into tears and draped herself over my lap. In retrospect, Mom was extremely embarrassed about her reaction to my cancer diagnosis. Thirteen years before, she had also been diagnosed with breast cancer. To hear her daughter had cancer was almost more than she could bear.
There is only one thing in this world shittier than biting it from cancer when you’re sixteen, and that’s having a kid who bites it from cancer.
My memory from the hospital’s recovery room popped into my head as I read Hazel Grace’s words above in John Green’s novel, The Fault in Our Stars.
Hazel Grace is a sixteen year old girl who was expected to die when she was younger, but because of a miracle (and fictitious) cancer-fighting drug, she is granted extra time. While she would rather sit on the couch and watch episode after episode of ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) or reread her favorite book of all time (more about this book in a moment), her mom forces her to go to a cancer support group for kids.
Through Support Group, Hazel Grace meets Augustus Waters. He is a former high school basketball star in Indiana (think Hoosiers). Bone cancer successfully ended his basketball career by taking his leg. Hazel tells him to read her favorite book, AIA (An Imperial Infliction) written by Peter Van Houten. Van Houten writes about a teen aged girl with cancer; however, in Hazel’s opinion, this is not your typical cancer book because it does not suck. Hazel’s obsession with this book soon becomes Augustus’ obsession. There is one problem; the book ends in the middle of a sentence. Hazel has many unanswered questions about the book and dreams of traveling to Amsterdam to talk with the author. Augustus tells Hazel to use her WISH as a child with cancer to go to Amsterdam. However, Hazel already used her WISH. Since she thought she would die when she was only thirteen, to her chagrin she used her WISH to go to Disney World.
I really enjoyed reading this book; the witty banter between Hazel and Augustus was so fun even though it seemed too mature for teens. I could argue that cancer had made them grow up too fast, and so they are not normal teenagers. I knew this book was about cancer and I swore I wouldn’t cry…but I cried. It was well worth the tears.
This book about cancer definitely didn’t suck.
Join The Fault in Our Stars discussion at BlogHer Book Club! Disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.