The Fault in Our Stars: For those who did not really cry after reading it

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When I first started college, a friend of mine told me about a man named John Green and his popularity on tumblr. Since I was not in tumblr yet, I had almost no idea of who he was in the August of 2013. Slowly, that friend of mine got to know me better and after she had discovered my thirst for heart wrenching stories- she told me that I was probably the kind of person who would read The Fault in our Stars without shedding a single tear and recommend it to others just to see them cry. Yes, half of her prediction is turned out to be true. I did not shed a single tear and I bet there are people all over the world who felt sad after reading that book but did not actually cry or have a breakdown. I assure you I did not recommend the book to the others just to see them cry but I did recommend the book to people who like Nicholas Spark’s romances or romances in general. While the Internet is flooded with praises about this book, I will try to be as honest as possible about my reaction after reading it.

Stories about cancer patients, who have a limited amount of time to live, are not rare at all. When I started reading this book I thought it would be a modern version of ‘A Walk to Remember’, but that was a very wrong assumption and I was left more than a bit disappointed. It’s not that I think Jamie, from A Walk to Remember, is the ultimate woman with her “without suffering there’d be no compassion” line. But I think we can safely agree that Jamie was much more extra-ordinary than Hazel Grace. Not to mention, she was also too good to be true and hence A Walk to Remember was not exactly realistic with its extreme innocence. That is where The Fault in Our Stars wins the crown, it is extremely and painfully real. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are people you may meet in your life more than once.

But as rude as it sounds, the fact that they are dying does not really make two ordinary people interesting. Not that every story must have someone extra-ordinary in it but we are all more than ordinary in our own minds. Hazel Grace and Gus Waters are no different. Their philosophies about life and their interpretation of certain situations may seem excessively far-fetched but the reality is that we all think like that if, in fact, we are thoughtful people. Yes, there is some kind of excess philosophizing in the story but now that I think of it, we all have out personal inexplicable philosophies that cannot really be written down or explained to someone else. Gus’ and Hazel’s words may look good in quotes but all of them don’t really make sense. I can admit this without criticizing John Green because it is impossible to understand another person’s thought process at times unless you are thinking about the same thing from the same perspective. For someone who is reading this book because people say it’s a good book, it is almost impossible to step in the shoes of a dying person.

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This is where I started admiring Jamie more than Hazel Grace or Gus. Jamie was so much more than her disease. Her kindness to all and her belief in the goodness of people made her somewhat odd but she was a person with so many more things to define her. Even though Gus tells Hazel Grace in the very beginning “Don’t tell me you’re one of those people who becomes their disease”, I don’t think she manages to escape this fate. Though, the question is- can a teenager, who is aware of the fact that she may not live till adulthood, really hope to become something more than her disease? Is it possible to forget that the rest of the world does not have to roam around with their oxygen tanks while you do? Is it possible to live happily without blaming God for being unfair to you like Jamie did? Maybe not. But however fairytale-like Jamie was, she ensured that the readers would remember her.

Will Hazel Grace be remembered or does she even want to be remembered is the real question. In the end, Gus makes a very true remark, when we die almost all of us dream about leaving a mark, and Hazel Grace is an exception to this rule. It is not in the destiny of everyone to leave a mark or to be extra-ordinary. Which brings to my mind the story of an absolutely ordinary person set in an ordinary day- J. Alfred Prufrock, someone whom Hazel Grace admired too. Does Hazel manage to become J. Alfred Prufrock then? Prufrock reminded us of an existentialist crisis with his simple words “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?” and by the end of the poem we realize that with his myriad excuses, he has managed not to disturb the universe at all. The world goes on without acknowledging the man’s mid-life crisis. But to the readers, the poem becomes unbelievably precious. Sadly, this is not the story of Hazel Grace.

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The Fault in Our Stars is sad because it is based on cancer and that disease is what makes it painful for us to read the story. Honestly, it is the cancer that had me choked up while I barely felt anything for the characters at all. The daily usage of the word ‘okay’ has tripled but like a few people who have not read like story, I still don’t understand its significance. This book did not make me cry and I thought I would just say it out loud because I think there are other people too who feel the same way but haven’t expressed their views because everyone else seems to love this book. But yes, this book should be read- how you feel after reading it is somewhat irrelevant because the questions that are asked in the end are important.