The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThere are so many advantages to visiting your local library.  One thing we see over and over at the West Elmira Branch is impromptu book sharing.  A patron comes in and mentions a great book they have read.  Another patron hears and asks to have the book reserved for them.  Recently, we found a book that holds appeal to readers across many age groups.

Ahnece, a staff member in the 25-35 age range, read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  She could not say enough about the book and mentioned it to several patrons.  This is what she says about the book:  “John Green weaves, throughout this story, the most human of experiences-fear, joy, faith-emotional twists and turns that kept me wondering what could happen next.  Under the shadow of inevitable death, Hazel, Gus, and Isaac experience sorrow, pity, laughter, injustice, love and ultimately, forgiveness.  The ways in which the characters deal with their mortality, in exceedingly positive ways, motivates me to aspire to the same maturity in my own life.

The title is Shakespearean (from Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2);   so incredible is Green’s writing that some of his lines seem almost Shakespearean in quality as well.  Although devastating in theme, The Fault in Our Stars is ultimately the most uplifting of Stories.  As Green writes:  ‘Grief does not change you, Hazel.  It reveals you.’”

Ahnece recommended the book to a patron, Mary Ann, who also felt it was one of the best she has read.  Mary Ann is in the senior age group and this is what she has to say about the book:  “I like novels that speak to me-that reveal verities, those enduring truths that are truer than true.  In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green speaks to me in poignant, understated language.

The main characters, Hazel Grace and Augustus, ages 16 and 17, meet in a support group for cancer patients.  John Green skillfully reveals their coming to know each other.  He does this with the subtle, but so effective use of young banter and observations of their world.

Early in the novel, when Hazel first meets Gus, she observes, ‘He smiles with half his mouth’.  Later, when talking with him on the phone, she says, ‘I could hear his crooked smile’.

At this first encounter, Gus is talking about his friend Isaac.  Hazel says, ‘I liked Augustus Waters.  I really, really, really liked him.  I liked the way his story ended with someone else’.

Later, she achingly wants to extend the day, ‘The sun was a toddler, insistently refusing to go to bed’.

With the same longing, she says, ‘I felt like Anna in the book, that feeling of excitement and gratitude about just being able to marvel at all’.

Gus’s character has a similar depth with a knack for saying something wise and dear.  He and Hazel are composing an ad to sell a swing set.  He remarks to her, ‘That’s why I like you…you are so busy being you that you have no idea how unprecedented you are’.

He also says that people might not realize how difficult keeping a promise can be, but they must keep it anyway.

Hazel Grace, who tells the story, speaks to my heart.  She is never maudlin or boastful; she is always true.”

Clarie, another patron, has recently begun to volunteer at the library.  When she heard this discussion she jumped right in with her thoughts:  “The Fault in Our Stars is an indescribably amazing book.  Its combination of humor, tragedy, and love draws you in and helps you connect with the characters in your own personal way.  In this book, two young people suffering from cancer meet, bond, and fall in love, unobstructed by their illness.   It is a must-read for teens as well as adults.  There will be a movie coming out with Ansel Elgort as Gus and Shailene Woodley as Hazel.  The author, John Green, said on YouTube that he watched the auditions and had a bit of say in the casting.  I doubt the movie will be as good as the book, however, I will definitely watch the movie.  I only reread my favorite books, and The Fault in Our Stars is certainly one of them.”   Claire is a teenager.

We hope this inspires you to try this much loved book before the movie is released.  We also hope this inspires you to join a reading discussion group, the CCLD Summer Reading Club, or the Online Book Club.  You never know what gem you will discover.

Dianne Patchett
Branch Manager
West Elmira Library