The Fault in our Stars by John Green

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The Fault in our Stars by John Green ISBN: 978-0525478812, Dutton Books; 1st edition (January 10, 2012)

Plot Summary:

When Hazel Lancaster is forced to attend a support group for children with cancer she does not expect to fall in love. Sixteen year old Hazel Lancaster has been living on borrowed time since her lung cancer was driven into remission by an experimental drug treatment when she was thirteen. She and her parents know that it is only a matter of time before the cancer returns. Her parents feel that Hazel has withdrawn from the world and want her to find some friends that she can talk to. In an attempt to draw her out, Hazel’s parents force her to attend a cancer support group for kids, which is where she meets Gus and Isaac. Augustus Waters is recovering from osteosarcoma, for which his right leg has had to be removed. His best friend Isaac has had one eye removed, but has recently found out that the other eye will also have to be removed. The three become friends and Hazel introduces Gus to her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, a book about a young girl dying from cancer. To her surprise, Gus also enjoys the book, but both feel cheated at the ending, which doesn’t end but rather cuts off. Both understand that this most likely signifies the character’s death, but are obsessed with finding out what happens to the other characters in the novel. Gus uses a wish that he had saved up from “The Genies” to fly them both to Amsterdam to meet with the author, Peter Van Houten. The meeting with Van Houten does not go as planned, but by the end both have fallen deeply in love with one another. Although their love is doomed, both choose to expose themselves to the likelihood of an unhappy ending in order to truly live.

Critical Evaluation: 

John Green is a powerful writer whose characters always exhibit depth and realism. Hazel Lancaster knows that it is only a matter of time before her cancer catches up with her, and so has chosen to withdraw from everybody in order to minimize the impact that her death will cause. In doing so, she has also given up on life. Instead, she is lives inside the brilliant phrases contained within her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. In a heart wrenching scene with her parents she reveals that she thinks of herself as a grenade. The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel’s journey away from this mentality. When she shares this novel with Gus Waters, she is able to begin the process of coming out of the no man’s land that she has exiled herself to. By the end of the novel she has experienced true love and realized that for those who love her, the price of grief is worth the gift of love.

Information about the author:

John Green is a New York Times bestselling author who has received numerous awards, including both the Printz Medal and a Printz Honor. John is also the cocreator (with his brother, Hank) of the popular video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which has been watched more than 30 million times by Nerdfighter fans all over the globe. John Green lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Reader’s Annotation:

Sixteen year old Hazel Lancaster has been living on borrowed time since her lung cancer was driven into remission by an experimental drug treatment when she was thirteen. She and parents know that it is only a matter of time before the cancer returns. When she meets fellow cancer patient Augustus Waters, she must make the decision to either withdraw or to live.

Genre:

Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

How well do you think you know your friends.

Reading Level/Interest Age:

Grades 8 and up

Challenge Issues:

Language, sexual situations.

I would make sure that all material was purchased in accordance with my library’s collection development policy and make sure to keep a file containing positive reviews for books that I thought might be challenged. In the event of a challenge, I would actively listen to the parent’s concern and ask if they had read the book. I would then explain why the book had been added to the collection and provide with the reviews and a copy of the collection development policy. I would affirm that they are within their rights to limit what their children read, but that other parents also have the right to determine what their children can read. If all else failed, I would provide the parent with a reconsideration form.

Reasons for inclusion:

This book was required reading for LIBR 265.

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