After writing yesterday’s post, I was obviously completely overwhelmed about how to choose a book that makes me sad. I was cruising around iBooks for inspiration but instead found John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars on sale for a bargain price of $3.99. After raving about Looking for Alaska, I had no other option but to buy and read it (in one day, of course.)
If you want to remain completly isolated and clueless about this novel, quit reading now; it is to be made into a (what I can only presume to be wonderful) feature film sometime in the near future. However, if you want to continue to read, I will preface with: minor (only minor!) spoilers ahead.
The novel is based around children with cancer – as if that isn’t a horribly sad enough story line, one of them dies, as often happens when one is cursed with cancer. Green’s writing is so realistic; every human has experienced these thoughts about death: it is so unfair, why them?, why anyone?, what now? Death is so finite while the life we are living is so infinite; anything is possible, it seems! What can humans not do?! We have our entire life ahead of us! An entire life is such an incalculable number. We want, need, to believe that; it is true, in so many ways. How would we change if we knew there were 1000 days left? What about 100? Or just 10?! Procrastination is just an excuse until a final deadline arrives. Then everything becomes rushed, last minute, a cram session. Life, of course, is not fair, but once we receive an end date, it becomes final, conceptual, and, above all things else, real.
Being on this planet is such a gift (also known as a blessing, if you believe in that type of thing.) Out of all the planets in this galaxy, here we are on the ONE that supports life! Not to mention the family, friends, and favorite things that we enjoy here on Earth. I know it seems that I digress from this novel’s review, but these characters are so much more than ficticious; they feel the same things we do when someone we know/love/encountered dies. No life isn’t fair; but while we are here we can pretend like it is. Life is grandeur, grandiose, marvelous, and magnificent, in every sense of each word. A lifetime (!!) we are all wonderfully lucky enough to experience, some for more years than others; however, that doesn’t mean we can’t get infinite joy from each beautiful day. Does it matter if we never see the Great Pyramids of Giza, fly in an airplane, or even cross state lines? No! We have people near and dear to us and we change their life EVERY DAY! It’s such a beautiful thing to imagine, and we get to actually experience it! Life is real, and yes, it happens to every person on this planet each and every day.
“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after.”
In the novel, Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac realize their time is limited, their vision of life will become skewed with each chemo treatment, and each death in their support group, but they decide to live anyway and create a life worth living, if only for each other. Even if they have no life/world changing moments, that doesn’t mean their life wasn’t worth anything. Being here, being alive, being known to anyone is wonderful enough in itself. We are here for each other.
“I fear that I won’t get either a life or a death that means anything.” -Augustus Waters
“Were she better or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.” – Van Houten
“You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” – Augustus to Hazel Lancaster (possibly my favorite compliment anyone in literature has ever received.)
“It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.” -Augustus (Of course)
“Grief does not change you, … It reveals you.” -Van Houten
And here we are, living as we are supposed to be, by some miracle, or possibly, by only by some normalcy we have yet to realize. Here we are reading novels that inspire greatness, bravery, and as this novel did for me, many tears. Here we are for 79 (average) years; who cares if we create the next amazing invention – aren’t we all amazing inventions!? We are.
Bottom line – if you read this book and do not tear up, you have a hardened, black soul. How does John Green articulate human feelings into such beautiful, poetic words? We may never know.
“You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” -Hazel Lancaster
Isn’t that true for each of us? We all have numbered days; we all have someone(s) that has given us more than we could ever dream to repay.