“You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
Life is unfair. Absolutely, positively unfair.
But, while not all stories have happy endings, but it doesn’t make their journey any less beautiful.
I’ll admit, I was terrified to read this. I’ve had a copy of it for the last year and every time I’ve come even close to starting it, I just chickened out and chose something else. But now, having read it, I’m actually kicking myself now for having put it off.
Honestly, what I expected of this book was just SO different from what it actually was and what my reaction to it was. I expected to sob uncontrollably, but I didn’t. I expected it to be mostly a sad book, but it wasn’t really, at least, not until the last third. And I expected most of it to take place in a hospital, it didn’t. I was wrong on pretty much every account, except the ending. I knew the ending. The thought of it alone made my heart break, but in the last few weeks something about this book has just kept me coming back to it, so I just went for it.
The ending is incredibly sad, but the book wasn’t sad as a whole. There were a lot of really sweet moments of just two teens falling in love. The ending reminds you of how unfair and cruel life can be but the story is beautiful.
Now, just to clarify about the tears, despite the fact that I didn’t actually cry or sob at the end (which was really surprising to me), today I’ve been feeling kind of “down” and “sad” and it made me realize that I think this book affected me much more deeply in a way that wasn’t quite so apparent as tears, but no less strong.
But, I did get SERIOUSLY choked up and teary at the end. I felt my heart break, and I deeply felt the incredible tragedy of their story.
That said, while I knew to expect sadness, what I didn’t expect at all was to laugh. I laughed, I smiled, and I chuckled. So much of this book was just downright cute and funny!
“So anyways, at the end of the [driving] test, I totally thought I’d failed again, but the instructor was like, “Your driving is unpleasant, but it isn’t technically unsafe.”
The book was told from Hazel’s POV and I loved her voice. She was just so full of life (ironic, yes, but very true!). As a teen, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It was supposed to be terminal, but thanks to a miracle drug, she’d continued to live. And while she had to carry an oxygen tank around with her at all times she was still living her life, surrounded by her loving family and living each day to the best she could.
In Support Group, she met Augustus. Ohhh Augustus! So self-assured, gorgeous, witty, and just wonderful. He had a form of cancer that had an 80% survival rate, and was doing quite well for the most part. And he and Hazel struck up a friendship that, over the course of the book, developed into so much more.
When he first appeared on scene, I felt that sort of instant connection and love for him that you feel when you meet those special book characters that steal your heart. I knew when I met him though, that there was no way this book would not break my heart. He was just downright swoony – in an oddly witty and endearing way.
This book is full of absolutely beautiful quotes! The quotes were actually what made me decide to start the book. I see them posted everywhere and every time I read one, my heart just squeezes.
“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”
“That’s the thing about pain… It demands to be felt.”
“I took a deep breath through my nose. There was never enough air in the world, but the shortage was particularly acute in that moment.”
“It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
I will say this though. I did feel a slight disconnect from the book in certain places. There is a side story line revolving around a book that Hazel and Augustus are reading that at times I felt that certain scenes relating to it pulled me away from the main characters. I understand how vital it was to the story line, but (and I don’t know if this really makes sense to say this) I felt that they had so little time left that I just wanted to get back to ‘them’ and spend every minute focused on ‘them’.
For the first half of the book, I honestly spent most of it smiling. I loved watching Hazel and Augustus fall in love. It was slow, sweet, and beautiful… and sometimes you just forgot what they were going though. Sometimes, they just seemed like regular happy teens – gorgeously intelligent, fun, flirting teens.
“May I see you again?” he asked. There was an endearing nervousness to his voice.
I smiled. “Sure.”
“Tomorrow?” he asked.
“Patience, grasshopper,” I counseled. “you don’t want to seem overeager.”
“Right, that’s why I said tomorrow,” he said. “I want to see you again tonight. But I’m willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow.”
I rolled my eyes.
“I’m serious,” he said.”
But then, in both small and huge ways, you get reminded of the things they’ve been through and continue to go through and it just hits you so strongly. Makes you wonder how they could possibly manage to be so happy? How had life not just broken them? They had been through everyone’s worst nightmares and yet were still so strong. Their resilience was heartwarming and inspiring.
But they were falling in love while living on borrowed time and when the inevitable reveal hit, it just broke my heart. I knew it was coming, but that didn’t make it easier. Not one bit.
As many of you know, this book does not have a happy ending. It’s tragic and gut-wrenching and will leave your heart aching.
“We’d had this brief but still infinite forever.”
“Maybe ‘okay’ will be our ‘always’.”
“I love you present tense”
It’s so rare for me to read a book that doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt I had to make an exception in this case. The Fault In Our Stars was a beautiful book, with beautiful moments and a beautiful story. Augustus and Hazel have a special place in my heart now.
But yeah, my heart still hurts. A lot.
Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to read this book!
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”