Author: John Green
Genre: Young adult
The story is told by Hazel Grace, a 16 year old girl “used to” live with cancer for 3 years.
Thanks to a miraculous medication which temporarily blocked the disease, she has survived beyond all expectations, but has significant lung problems and is forced to bring with her a portable oxygen tank (called Philip).
The life of Hazel flows in absolute anonymity, consciously away from everyone to “minimize” the damage when the treatment will no longer have effect.
Passionate reader, her best friends are her parents and a book (An Imperial Affliction, invention of the author), that lacks a real final and upon which she keeps thinking as if it was vitally important for her to know what happened to the characters.
Forced by her mother to join a support group to socialize, one day she meets Augustus, a boy “survived” to cancer that took one of his legs. Gus has a considerable charm and he is immediately attracted to Hazel, who initially tries to keep him at a distance, conscious of being a “grenade” ready to explode. But, of course, life is made up of days that demand to be lived, and it is impossible not to to have feelings. The problem is that often pain and love are the same person.
«My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.» (Gus)
I admit, I missed reading novels. Reading just essays, books of study and of grammar, was becoming depressing for the part of me devoted to feelings and creativity.
TFiOS, read as ebook, was really a surprise: the first novel in English that involved me enough to finish it in a few days, it has the merit of being one of those books that lead me to reflect a lot and to think back to what I just read, connecting it to something universal but also to my everyday experiences.
TFiOS is a book about love, infinity within days and life, but not about cancer (which is just a side effect of dying, as says Hazel, and, to think of it, in the end pretty much everything is a huge side effect of life).
The cover can be misleading, passing it off as a book for kids. To give a better idea, I recommend this site (johngreenbookcovers/the+fault+in+our+stars), where are collected the covers of the book designed by the fans, really well done and representative.
«I will not tell you our love story, because – like all real love stories – it will die with us, as it should.» (Hazel)
And there is not much more to say, because we have already lived the love story with them, and maybe it was too fast, or maybe they seemed too much mature (as some readers complained about), but it was definitely intense and full of emotions (joy and pain) that asked to be felt. Their story was lived with the awareness that there is no “forever“, especially for who knows that his time is limited, but realizes that the days contain infinities larger for those who live them than for the rest of the world.
«Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.
(—) There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set.
I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.»
The two main characters, Hazel and Gus, are the bearers of ideals and values sometimes distant: the different conception in dealing with the disease, and thus life and death, places them at two different sides of a path, where eventually they will discover the “different infinities” and the acceptance that in life you can not avoid to feel pain, but you can choose who to love and who will leave the scars of his passage within us.
While Hazel wants to avoid people who loves to keep them from suffer, Gus searches for a way to escape from oblivion, a more noble reason to live, or at least to die, and so to be remembered.
There is no glory in dying of disease, because even the cancer is a part of them, that is occupying the rest of their bodies in the fight for survival.
The fear of oblivion is a feeling that many of us share: nobody wants to be forgotten. But, in reality, as says Hazel, there is no way to fight oblivion which inevitable will strike down the humanity.
«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. (—)
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.
And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it.»
The truth is that you do not need to be celebrated by all to be remembered.
As noted by Hazel, reading the comments left on the page of a girl who died from cancer: thousands of “friends” mourned her loss and praised her courage, but none of them had ever visited her in the last months.
It’s the good old lesson of “few but good”: «loved deeply but not widely».
The lived life was not meaningless if we loved deeply.
You do not need the whole world knows it, it’s enough that who loved you knows it.