Two weekends ago, I downloaded John Green’s widely acclaimed novel with the hopes that it would fit into an assignment for reading week. Why not start early? I had nothing new to read, and it’s only a few hundred pages of young adult fiction. So I sat down at 9pm on a Saturday night (wild, I know) and read. And read. And stopped at some point to let myself breath and take a break from crying and well, feeling. There are few books that I have had the distinct pleasure of reading that really have made me cry. Of course, Dumbledore’s death was tragic, and who can forget the end to My Sister’s Keeper? But this was something completely different.
I am not ashamed (now, two weeks later) to admit that I did not like this book when I first finished it. Yes, I laughed out loud and I sobbed, but there was something that just didn’t sit right with me. After tossing and turning in bed for an hour after I finished the book, I finally came to the conclusion that there was just too much feeling. The characters felt too much and the book made me feel too much. And that was ok. So ok, in fact, that I started rereading the book the very next day, and went out to buy my own copy just a few days later.
I have mixed feelings telling people what The Fault In Our Stars made me feel, how it made me feel, and that I just want to keep rereading it. Funny, the narrator of the story has the exact same experience with a fictional book. The experience I had with this story is distinctly my own and not something that anyone else will ever have. For that reason, I don’t think I’ll be recommending this story. At least not to just anyone. For some high school students, because this book is definitely for no one younger than 15, the story will be tragic, beautiful, heartbreaking, but still just a story. If I had read it in high school, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown (my mom laughed when I told her this). There is something unique about Green’s novel, and it isn’t that the characters are likeable and realistic or that the subject matter is raw and emotional. I don’t even know if I can put it into words.
What I can say, though, is that Green is a superb writer and it should be the privilege of every library to carry his books. So, read it, shake your head and laugh if you come away without feeling quite so much as I did. But I hope that you have an experience with a book like I had with this one.