It’s been a few weeks and I’m happy to say that I have finished reading and processing the book The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) by John Green. I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be reading and reviewing the book from a cancer patients perspective. Check out my apprehensions and assumptions before reading the novel here.
Taking the time to read my aforementioned post, you would know that I was especially nervous to begin reading the book. Taking the few extra moments to read the acknowledgement pages was greatly comforting, thanks to the author’s note, which reiterated that the story was a work of fiction to all readers. Feeling empowered by this notice, as if John Green was on my side, I began the first chapter. It took me a few days to finish the book, and for someone who has all the time in the world, that’s kind of a lot. I wouldn’t call it a page turner and I personally I found the story line to be too predictable. But hey, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to see that cancer, and people living with cancer are represented properly to a population largely made up of people with little knowledge of the disease.
Upon completion of the novel I can say that overall I was pleasantly surprised by the portrayal of a life lived with cancer. Not medically, as John Green gracefully discredits the scientific accuracy in the final pages of acknowledgements, but mentally and emotionally. I believe that cancer, for the patient, is a mental battle, more than it is physical. That is where we all overlap in some way. So that is what I was focusing on as I read this novel, looking for any way to overlap with Hazel, the narrator and main character. It wasn’t hard, like I expected it to be. I even found myself highlighting different excerpts and thinking things like, “that’s exactly how it feels.” Even some of the sarcastic terms used like, “cancer perks” and “cancer side effects,” remind me of similar sayings used in my own day-to-day. I am happy to say that my assumptions about TFIOS, the book, were wrong. Cancer life was not misrepresented to millions of superfans all around the world. Way to go John Green!
Now, some people have spoken to me about the novel and how it “romanticizes” cancer. Well, it does. I personally don’t fault the book for that. It wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t a love story. And as a person who has suffered through cancer and lives with obvious differences (like Hazel’s oxygen) I would like to think that someday I can meet someone who has had similar experiences to me and can understand why I walk with a limp, or a cane, or crutches and love me anyway. They won’t think it’s creepy how often I think about death or how I’ll probably have fake hips by age 22 or that I know what it’s like to want to die. Because they will have experienced it too. But those are my own problems.
Overall, as a cancer patient looking to see that the story was an accurate representation of the struggle, I’d say that it was. In terms of reading for pleasure, I was not particularly enamored by the romantic love story between two suffering teenagers.
Gonna see the movie this week and I’ll put up a post of my thoughts on that soon!