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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Their love will break your heart.

Interests/Topics: romance, cancer, reading, Philosophy, Amsterdam, Anne Frank, friendship, death, family relationships

Curriculum Connections: World History (Holocaust), Health and Physical Education, Philosophy

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+             

Blurb: When my mom was first diagnosed with cancer we cut her hair short and dyed it purple. She looked like a punked-out Easter egg for about three weeks. The morning her hair started falling out she told me to shave it off and be done with it already. It was an emotional task, made hysterical by the fact that we used whipped cream in lieu of shaving cream (don’t ask). Shaving her head didn’t take long (with the exception of continuously mopping the melting goo off her face and neck), and the shared experience connected us in a way we hadn’t felt before. That’s how cancer works: it heightens your emotions and opens your soul while simultaneously sucking the life right out of your body.

Sixteen-year-old Hazel doesn’t feel sorry for herself even though cancer has significantly shortened her life expectancy. She has come to terms with her eventual demise and only feels regret and hurt when thinking about how devastated her parents will be once she’s gone. She is content staying at home, reading her favourite book, and watching back-to-back episodes of reality television with her mom. Then in saunters (okay, limps) Augustus and her life takes an abrupt turn (you know, other than that hairpin one that the cancer diagnosis threw at her). Now Hazel knows the desperate, roller-coaster ride of loving someone with cancer. What can two terminally ill teenage kids teach the rest of the world about living life and being in love?

Flavour: “I told Augustus the broad outline of my miracle: diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer when I was thirteen. (I didn’t tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die.) It was, we were told, incurable.” (25)

“I thought of telling her that I was seeing a boy, too, or at least that I watched a movie with one, just because I knew it would surprise and amaze her that anyone as dishevelled and awkward and as stunted as me could even briefly win the affections of a boy.” (43)

“One might marvel at the insanity of the situation: A mother sends her sixteen-year-old daughter alone with a seventeen-year-old boy out into a foreign city famous for its permissiveness. But this, too, was a side effect of dying: I could not run or dance or eat foods rich in nitrogen, but in the city of freedom, I was among the most liberated of its residents.” (159)

“’Augustus Waters,’ I said, looking up at him, thinking that you cannot kiss anyone in the Anne Frank House, and then thinking that Anne Frank, after all, kissed someone in the Anne Frank House, and that she probably would like nothing more than for her home to have become a place where the young and irreparably broken sink into love.” (202)

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