This month I'm going to tell you about The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.
The story begins with Hazel, 16, who has cancer and is probably going to die, barring a miracle. Her day revolves around her illness which is in a sort of holding pattern thanks to an experimental drug trial. But she still needs to carry an oxygen tank around with her and gets tired easy, which limits what she can do. She spends a lot of time reading, and watching reality shows like America's Next Top Model. She's also very funny. For example, when forced to attend a cancer support group, she has this to say about it:
"This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. Why did the cast rotate? A side-effect of dying."
Hazel is very snarky, and wise beyond her years, but also inexperienced when it comes to real life and boys. She was diagnosed at the age of thirteen and not expected to live. She hasn't been to school since and has one 'real' friend left from the days when she was well. But it is exactly this mix of wisdom and inexperience that makes her relationship with Augustus - whom she meets at said cancer support group - so charming.
"Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial’s author, an expatriate American, lives..."(Booklist)
I won't tell you what happens, but lets just say you won't expect it and you're probably going to want a hanky. The last time a book made me this sad was Mockingjay.
This book easily gets five-stars. I adored Hazel and Gus, their sharp sense of humors, their brutal honesty in the face of death, their dear parents, and their fellow sufferers. Booklist says, "Beautifully conceived and executed..." and I couldn't agree more. I've read two other John Green books and this is by far my favorite.