I listened to The Fault in Our Stars as an audiobook. This was the first time I had actually listened to an audiobook, and I was expecting to get very frustrated with the format because I love sitting and physically holding a book in my hand. But, very quickly I became invested in Hazel Grace’s character, not just because of how beautifully she was written, but also because of how her character was read.
As a reader you almost don’t want to be able to relate to Hazel. We don’t really want to be able to learn what it feels like, and how hard it is to know that we have terminal cancer. It seems almost disrespectful to people who have had to face cancer, to feel as though we understand and relate to what they are going through. But Green’s novel is so beautifully crafted, that you can’t help but feel like you know Hazel and that you understand exactly what she is going through. Hazel has to deal not only with being sick, but also with rectifying her previously delayed teenage experience, while finding out what it means to stick up for what you want. The idea of what teenagers can handle and what kinds of experiences are appropriate for them is really called into question when a teenager will probably never be of legal drinking age, and will never reach an age where it is deemed acceptable to pronounce you are in love, and not have your love minimized to just being a schoolgirl crush.
Hazel asks questions, and thinks things that are not easy thoughts for the reader to consider. She worries about what is going to happen to her parents after she has died, if they’ll get a divorce because statistics show most parents who lose a child will. She worries because she once overheard her mom crying that once Hazel was gone she will no longer be a mom, and because her dad can’t stop crying anytime her health is brought up. The Fault in Our Stars portrays characters asking hard questions, dealing with hard situations, and having thoughts that reflect the illogical and irrational fears, worries and thoughts we all have when we are at our lowest point.
Hazel’s story is not easy to get through, it is heartbreaking, it is sad, but it is also a celebration of life and the people who make your life worth living. Hazel has the opportunity to learn how deeply someone else can love you, and how deeply you can love someone. In Gus, Hazel finds someone to hold onto, in a time when the easiest thing to do is let go. The Fault in Our Stars is the most realistic representation of extreme hardship in the face of disease that I have ever encountered. Green has created a novel that finds beauty in one of the most difficult and painful life experiences.