“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books … which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal.”
I’ve tried to explain that feeling before — that feeling that can be gotten when you read a book and it, seemingly, reads you. And you don’t want to tell anyone about it – but you want to tell EVERYONE about it. It’s the way I’ve always felt about God Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo. And then it’s the way I felt about her book How to Kill a Rock Star.
So it was refreshing to find a book character that understood that feeling like Hazel did in The Fault in Our Stars. This book [by John Green] was not what I expected after hearing rave reviews from everyone about it. Don’t get me wrong, it was sweet and heartfelt and touching and at times, even comical. And John Green writes with a wisdom not only about life but about literature that is invigorating.
Hazel and Augustus remind me in some ways of the cast of Dawson’s Creek or Gilmore Girls. These young kids using a vocabulary far beyond their years. But you believe it, in a sense, because they seem to understand and to view life so much more clearly as they seem to be able to see an end to it. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? We say live life to the fullest but we don’t on a daily basis. We live but we’re lazy at times and we’re irritable and we’re late and hurried and what not. But what we’re not is soaking it all in.
I think about that a lot. That ticking clock, that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, that we just never know. I think it’s why I insist on spending so much time with my family. On Wednesday, Mom and I met at my place and then headed to Bonefish for mussels and wine. We don’t do it often enough but when we do, I feel like sometimes I’m trying to get every last story I can out for her and, in turn, trying to get her to tell me stories. This week it was stories about her early years of marriage. And it was fun to hear stories that, even though we talk every day, I’ve never heard before.
Hazel and Augustus didn’t play the game quite like that. They didn’t have the stories to tell one another so much as they had their thoughts on everything – on the big picture – to share. One of my favorite revelations had was had by Augustus – and it was the understanding that we keep people, after they’ve passed, on a pedestal. Particularly if they suffered in some way. As though their suffering was never painful, never ugly. But it is. It’s a whole lot of ugly. I lost my youth director when I was 16 (and he 32). And even with his age, I choose to remember him pre-brain tumor. Because that’s ok. Because everything post wasn’t him.
Hazel and Augustus find adventure and love and companionship. They love in an unselfish way. They see the world and each other for what they are. Overall, I think Green did a great job with this unexpected story.
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”