I feel like people are waiting for this review from me. That somehow since I somewhat lived this, that my review matters more. Alas I know it really doesn’t but here is my two cents on this extremely popular book soon to be movie on a somewhat familiar topic to me.
First of all, I surprised myself by even reading this book. After Matt’s death I gobbled up every depressing widow/cancer book I could find. Being two years out, I have simmered down on them and occasionally pick them up at this point mostly because it's an author I know or I have heard some hype about it. Sometimes they bring me so back into it, that I just can’t bear it. I surprised myself even more by reading the book on a plane after a wedding weekend of a dear friend. But I am no stranger to the public silent cry so I finished the book crying as I landed over the snowy Rocky Mountains.
The book is about a sixteen year old girl, Hazel, who has an incurable lung cancer. She meets a dynamic young man at her support group who has also battled cancer but his has gone into remission and the two of them fall in love. Hazel is obsessed with a book about a girl who also had cancer and a lot of the story centers around her love of this book, eventually the boys love of this book, and then a mission to find answers to some of the open ended questions at the end of the book. This is the general premise of the book and I’ll leave it ther as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
I really liked this book and thought it was extremely well written with a unique perspective on a difficult circumstance. The book sucked me in initially because Hazel entices you iwith her non-self pitying cancer humor. Cancer humor is typically only shared by those who have been deeply affected by cancer. Such as when people ask me, oh why aren’t you married? This question has been detested by woman especially those past the age of thirty but now, I can give this detested question asker the ultimate foot in the mouth answer. Per cancer humor rules, I can take a little satisfaction in that minute of awkwardness. But really, cancer humor can be a little jolting to those that haven’t dealt with it so intimately so I am not sure how others take it.
I did find some parts of the story a little unbelievable. (Spoiler Alert) I find it hard to believe that Augustus, Hazel's love, would pick up another girl at a support group after losing his prior girlfriend to cancer. I mean, I know you can’t help who ya fall in love with but I would head for the hills if someone told me they had another terminal type of cancer on a first date. This isn’t too say that I wouldn’t support someone going through it once we had fallen madly in love... but I am just being honest and I think it would be hard to involve yourself with someone who had cancer again especially at the age of 16. But I am not a teenage boy that has also had cancer...perhaps finding non-cancer girlfriends is difficult? The other thing I had difficulty with was the fact that the teenagers wrote their own eulogies and picked out their own funeral attire. Myself and Matt refused to admit that Matt was dying and never even discussed what he wanted for his funeral or anything of the sort. But maybe that’s just us?
As a friend told me, I would both laugh and cry during this book and that I did. I plan to look up how the author had such an intimate knowledge of the evils of cancer and assume he lost a close family member. The movie however, I don’t think I can do it. Maybe if I need a good cry once it comes out on video (whoa this dates me... I meant On Demand) because some parts did hit too close to the heart and while getting some tears out helps from time to time, sobbing in the theatre doesn't sound all that appealing.