On a Personal Note...For those asking why anyone would want to see a sad movie or read a sad book about two teens with cancer, I totally get what you're saying. I couldn't possibly read book after book with subject matter this heavy; I need escapism, too. A ton of the fiction I read are with situations that are completely made up and could never happen (well, hopefully could never happen 0.0). But I also like reading about serious subjects from time to time. It's cathartic.
I wrote a movie review for The Fault in Our Stars a couple weeks ago. If you'd like to read it, please click here. I doubt I'll end up writing a book review - there are tons, so it already has a lot of exposure.
But I did want to write about the book on a personal level, which I didn't think would be too relevant or interesting in a traditional book review.
For me, it's easy to explain why I love this book so much. The characters are lovable, the dialogue is sharply witty, and I suppose also because I know what it's like to live with someone who has cancer and wanted to see from the other perspective. From The Fault in Our Stars, I learned some things about my grief I didn't know before.
When I was eleven, my grandpa died from brain cancer, and I was fourteen when my mom died from the same type of brain cancer. My mom was diagnosed after my grandpa had already died. Once they were diagnosed, there was basically no hope they'd survive - the tumors had intricately wrapped themselves around blood vessels to where they were impossible to remove completely without severing one of those blood vessels, causing instant death.
They both lived with cancer for over a year until they died. It was a roller coaster for my family, living through this disease twice. Sometimes I feel like I'm sleepwalking through life instead of actually living. I don't get the point of why they suffered. Was it just random? Why would the universe think one family should have to go through so much sickness and death?
My anger and bitterness comes from more than losing both of them - it was seeing them suffer for so long, and there was nothing we could do about it. I remember wanting to run away from home because I couldn't breathe - the disease was suffocating me. I was thirteen at the time.
There were moments when they wanted to tell us something badly but couldn't remember the words to express themselves, and their frustration was downright palpable. There was a night when my mom had at least three seizures in a row, and I thought for sure she was going to die that night. I was so angry when the ER sent us home, telling us there wasn't anything they could do except to adjust her dilantin levels (the medicine she took to prevent seizures).
I learned from reading The Fault in Our Stars that it's not only possible but very likely my mom thought of herself as a grenade. That she was afraid of leaving us alone in the aftermath of her death. I know she thought about what would happen to me and my sister without having her anymore because she asked our grandma to help Dad look after us.
And I bet she probably was worried about leaving Dad alone to raise two teenage girls - not worried about his ability to do it but feeling bad she would be gone soon without any choice in the matter. This wasn't what they had planned when they fell in love, got married, and had me and my sister. Yet they had to deal with it anyway because they were forced to.
This book gave me hope, that if this girl with cancer can find a way to live, to truly LIVE and not just sleepwalk through life, then maybe I can, too. I think that's what I needed the most - to see that even in the most dire of situations, there can be a way through the darkness, and you don't have to go alone.