Some infinities are bigger than others.
That line right there sums up everything I love about this book. It’s simple and beautiful and heartbreaking, just like this book.
We open with Hazel, our 16-year-old narrator, attending a cancer support group, one in which she will ultimately meet Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old cancer survivor with a prosthetic leg. What follows is the story of their friendship and more, how they each handle their disease and those around them living with it. Like I said, simple setup, but the beauty is in Green’s writing. There is no glamorization of the heroics of the cancer victims, no perfect, endlessly patient near-saints who fight without complaint (this is among many of the cancer stereotypes mocked by the characters in the book). No, Green writes about the reality of cancer: it’s painful and messy and cancer is selfish and destructive and in order for it to thrive, its host cannot. In short, cancer is a real dick. That’s the beauty here too though, that there is humor mixed with the pain, and even though several of the characters have cancer, there’s so much more to their personalities and lives than the disease inside them.
Now, of course, this is a book about teenagers with cancer. I actually held off on reading it for so long because I knew I was going to cry and I hate going into something knowing that. I made it about ¾ of the way through this book pleasantly surprised at how humorous and heartwarming it was and I thought for a minute that I could escape without shedding tears. Oh, Erin, you ignorant slut. I stress again: this is a book about teenagers with cancer. You bet your ass there was crying. I grew to love these characters in a short span of time, and that only made the ending more gut wrenching. I want to warn you about this so you know what you’re getting yourself into, but (BUT), you should also know: totally worth it. If you have ever read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak then you know exactly what I mean. This book was powerful, hilarious, poignant, and uncomfortable but it was one of the best books I have ever read. I recommend it to everyone, just keep your tissues handy.
Also, when searching for the book cover for this post, I found this art inspired by the book and it is absolutely gorgeous: