Sixteen year old Hazel suffers from a terminal form of cancer. Since she was 13. She has been one of the lucky few for whom a trial drug has worked. Lucky in that she is not dead. However, she still needs help breathing and has her lungs drained of the excess water on a regular basis. As she continues with her quiet life of reading and attending college with the thoughts of her impending death, Hazel meets Augustus Waters. Seventeen. One-legged. Charming. Handsome. Beautiful. With a crooked smile. A love for living metaphorically. Humorous. With a crush on Hazel. As they continue with their relationship including a trip to Amsterdam to meet Hazel’s favourite author, Hazel deals with worries about being a grenade…a person who is going to die sometime soon and leave Augustus and her parents who love her, broken. Augustus though seems to believe that in order to be known in death, one needs to do something significant in their lives. The story continues as they delve into thoughts about death and life and cancer culminating to a slightly predictable but sad end.
I absolutely LOVED this book. Why? It’s a bit hard to describe. Let me just say that I finished it in a day with working and everything! The story is narrated by Hazel and her honest opinions are a delight to read. She knows she has a terminal illness. She knows what it means. Yet, she hates the pity and the stares and the fact that everything everyone sees when they encounter her is her illness. Unlike Augustus. His irreverence and humour and plain cheekiness is a delight. I fell in love with both of them and their friend Issac. Cancer is a topic that is hard enough. Add to that cancer in teenagers must be a lot harder. And yet, somehow, without really trivialising it, John Green has managed to convey so much. It’s not about clichéd stuff like ‘live your life to the fullest’. And yet, you are left with thoughts of that. It’s not even necessarily about love even though it is. And it’s not about cancer but possibly about the way in which the world perceives things. Like you are helpless if you have a disease. You are not complete if you have a prosthetic leg. You are not supposed to be irreverent if you are facing death. But it’s this irreverence and humour and able to see things for what they are that make this book so profound and worth so much. Yes, it did leave in tears in the end but it had me chuckling through most pages and thinking deeply through others.