The Fault in Our Stars complex, tragic, hopeful love story

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; published by Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York, 2012; 313.

Hazel Grace Lancaster is a typical 16 year old: obsessed with reality TV and obsessed with finding out what happens to secondary characters in her favorite novel.  One major difference between her and her friends is that she’s post-Miracle, having earned a few extra years from her terminal cancer diagnosis by an unexpected trial medication.  Her mom keeps her social life “active” by taking her to a cancer kid support group at a local church.  It is during a group session that she meets Augustus Waters, former high school basketball star with a prosthetic leg thanks to osteosarcoma.  Their love story packs in a lifetime of memories in the time they have left together.

A love story where the boy and girl meet at Cancer Kid Support Group can’t be good, right?  Oh, you couldn’t be more wrong.  Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters live more in between the covers of this book than most people live in a life that runs decades.  John Green’s genius is that he misdirects us from the cancer with a touching, fully realized love story between a boy and a girl as well as their quest for the answers left unwritten in their favorite novel.  I rarely cry while reading novels.  This is only the second story that has brought me to tears in the last four years.  Beware, you may need a box of tissues for this one, even though the story is never maudlin.

Once again, I find myself struggling to do justice to a book in a review.  Like Amy Goldman Koss’ Side Effects, I was not anxious to read a book about a teenager with cancer.  But just like the first book, Green’s story transcends the tragic and brings the essence of a life well-lived into focus.  Do. Not. Miss. This. Book.

5P     4Q     Grade Level: 10+

ImageCover Art: Blue, black and white with a splash of yellow; not much graphic to recommend the book.  But don’t let the cover fool you.  Pick this one up!

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction), Survival in Love, War or Sports

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Congratulations!!!

Just a quick post to congratulate Paolo Bacigalupi for winning the Michael Printz Award for Ship Breaker!

Additionally, John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson was honored multiple times.  Congratulations to you as well!

The awards list has not yet been published, but if you can’t wait to hear all of the award winners and honorees, you can read a list of titles at School Library Journal‘s blog.

Congratulations to all the winners and honorees!!!  I’ll post the complete list as soon as it becomes available.

Yin and yang of Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan; published by Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, New York, 2010; 310 pages.

We’ve all Googled ourselves to see how many people have the same name, right?  Well, for Will Grayson, there are at least two in the Chicagoland area, at least in this collaborative novel by superstar authors Green & Levithan.  Each author has created a Will Grayson; one straight, one gay, both angsty teens.  A chance encounter in a most unexpected location leads the pair, and a wonderful cast of friends and family, through a painful but ultimately redeeming journey for love.  But not romantic love necessarily, but “love” in the neighborhood sense, in the familial and friendly sense.  In terms of unconditional “being there” for one another.  And the standing ovation at the end of the book just might have you standing, applauding, too.

Ah, my experience with collaborative books is not great.  I don’t really enjoy reading them.  Too often, the author’s disparate voices detract from the storytelling.  To get around that issue, Levithan and Green each speak, in alternating chapters, as one of the Will Graysons.  We start with Green’s Grayson: straight, two parents at home, close friends, and struggling with typical teen troubles.  Then we shift to Levithan’s Will: gay, single-parent family, struggling financially, and written in all lower-case (to express his depression & self-esteem issues).  As their paths cross, the storylines cross and we see both sides of their journey.  Immediately, I was sucked into their stories, wondering how their paths would cross.  Both characters were accessible from the start; I was a little concerned about the depths of depression Levithan wrote about, but the further I read, the more understanding I had for his biological and environmental triggers.

Really, this collaboration works.  It works as a story.  More importantly, it works to compare the lives of young men whose lives aren’t really that different after all; they just approach problems from different perspectives.   In the end, aren’t we all looking for unconditional love from those closest to us?

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 10 and up

Cover Art: Eh, a burst of red light from a black background, not really an attention-getter.  But I had to do a double-take to see if the title was just Will Grayson or if was doubled as the type was superimposed.  (All the intriguing background images DID NOT pop on my library copy as they do in this picture of the cover).  IMHO, I think the authors’ reputations will put this book into the most hands.

From Reading Lists: Sexual Identity, Best Books for Young Adults (YALSA) nominee 2010

RSS Braingle’s Teasers

  • Today's Daily Brain Teaser (Oct 19, 2017)
    What Am I? You have no control over me, I am not real, though sometimes you believe me, I come back every night, but am often forgotten, Though left alone, I will never become rotten, Sometimes I remind you of things yet to come, Sometimes, watching me, you do things you've never done, I rarely ever turn out to be true, Now I am done with this riddle fo […]