Despite the tragic plot, John Green’s novel about two terminally ill teenagers who fall in love is neither maudlin nor sentimental. Instead, employing equal parts humor and an honest portrayal of the difficulties of living with cancer, Green delivers a poignant love story that is both powerful and emotionally raw. While Green’s characters move from insecurity and fear, to courage and the first tentative efforts at love and trust, their voices never sound anything less than fully developed, genuine adolescents, who push limits, search for a connection, and dream about the future, no matter how short it must be.
From the opening lines of the novel, the reader knows that Hazel Grace Lancaster is dying of cancer. When she meets the hot and witty Augustus Waters at a support group for children with terminal illness, the story follows these two young people as they begin to live in a way they had never dreamed possible before. While they are by no means carefree, their matter of fact understanding of their illnesses opens up a space for them to achieve some semblance of normalcy. When a “wish-granting” charity sends them to Amsterdam in order to meet the author of the novel that has brought them together, the two have the chance to experience life, and love, as close to “normal” as their cancers will allow.
All Green’s characters, from the Oncologists, the Social Worker, Patrick, both sets of parents, to the ex-girlfriends ring with pitch perfect voice and attitude that make the story uplifting and hopeful despite the sword of Damocles that hangs over every page.
Highly recommended. S=Sex (1)