by John Green
The Short Story
Hazel has cancer and knows she'll die from it eventually. When her parents encourage her to join a cancer kids' support group, she meets Augustus Waters. Although she initially wants to stay distant from everyone, her relationship with Augustus changes the way she looks at the time she's got. This will probably win my "best book of 2012" award.
Come for the....
characters. This type of story could easily devolve into a Nicholas Sparks-like, sappy cheesefest, but it doesn't. (That's not to say it didn't make me cry, multiple times) I read somewhere that John Green said he wanted people to feel "all the things" reading the book, and I think that happens because of Hazel. She knows she's going to die, and that makes her fairly cynical. I was occasionally annoyed with her patronizing eye rolls toward anyone who had more religious beliefs about life/death/suffering, but eventually decided it was interesting to see how she approached the time she was sure she had. I liked that she worried about hurting the people around her when she died. I liked that she hated the pity she felt she got, but then turned around and pitied other people despite that. I liked her character growth. Most of all I liked how complex she was, even when I wanted to argue with her.
Other reviews will have lots to say about Augustus, and his impact on Hazel and the story. I liked Augustus, and how he tried to make sense of his experiences. But I'll focus on Hazel's parents instead. They were incredibly realistic as the people who know their primary responsibility is to keep their kid from death (you know, by feeding/clothing/caring for/taking to the doctor/etc), that most parents are able to manage that, and that they are going to fail. There's a great moment where Hazel's dad tells her he's proud of her, and she wonders "for what?" There's another moment where Hazel's mom just wants to take a bath. The parents were so honest and I was especially happy with the way their story went.
Stay for the
title, and the quote it's taken from; Peter Van Houten, who I still intend to look up and see if he's based on anyone; the author's forward, which would discourage that.
Don't Think About This Too Hard
- Hazel and Augustus both have a hard time sounding like teenagers throughout the book. Hazel also doesn't always sound like a girl. They both sound like they were written by a 30-something male, but that's probably because they were.
- If you have stronger religious beliefs, the occasional mocking may bother you.
The Big Three:
Language: somewhat regular profanity, including one f-word
Sex and Stuff: some, but nothing described
Violence: not an issue