How can I describe this book without bursting into tears all over again? I can’t.
In a nutshell, this is a love story – an epic one. Hazel Grace is a girl who, despite overcoming cancerous tumors, is still terminally ill. Contrary to social expectations, she maintains a brave, sarcastic and witty demeanor – which immediately attracts one Augustus Waters. Augustus and Hazel, while incredibly unique from the outside world, are so similar to each other. Their complex (and yet, so simple) view of life sparks a beautiful relationship that no one outside of their “small infinity” can possibly understand. While young, I think these characters experience a love that most of us will never have in our lifetime. Excuse me while I shed a few more tears because of that sad fact.
Aside from the obvious love story, there are themes of inspiration, hope and the fulfillment of wishes. At the same time, there is certainly a sense of hopelessness that you have to expect when reading a book about teenagers battling various forms of cancer. You will cry (if you have a soul, at least). What’s pretty incredible about the book, however, is how much you will laugh between your tears. There were times that I was laughing and crying at the same time!
Quite simply, you will fall in love with these characters. Despite their unfortunate circumstances, they are as intelligent and hilarious as they are charming. This is a book that I will definitely read more than once. I highly recommend it!
“I guess I had been looking toward the Encouragement above the TV, a drawing of an angel with the caption ‘Without Pain, How Could We Know Joy?’ (This is an old argument in the field of Thinking About Suffering, and it’s stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumed for centuries, but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate).”
“‘Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,’ I said. Isaac shot me a look. ‘Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway. Don’t you believe in true love?’ I didn’t answer. I didn’t have an answer. But I thought if true love did exist, that was a pretty good definition if it.”
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
“We stared at the house for a while. The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of them, even though they contain most of our lives. I wondered if that was sort of the point of architecture.”
“’I’m in love with you,’ he said quietly. ‘Augustus,’ I said. ‘I am,’ he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. ‘I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.’”
“’I don’t ever want to do that to you’ I told him. ‘Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.’”
“You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.” (This, to me, pretty much sums up the book.)
“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It’s like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”
“I thought of my dad telling me that the universe wants to be noticed. But what we want is to be noticed by the universe, to have the universe give a shit what happens to us – not the collective idea of sentient life but each of us, as individuals.”
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
“I want to leave a mark. But […] the marks humans leave are too often scars.”
“She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”