I have avoided this book like the plague. Oh, a YA book that has millions of teenage girls sniffling amongst themselves and wondering who will play whI have avoided this book like the plague. Oh, a YA book that has millions of teenage girls sniffling amongst themselves and wondering who will play who in the movie version? No thanks. Lurlene McDaniel cured me of ever having to read about dying teenagers again. Or so I thought. There are just so many great reviews about this book, and from people whose opinions about literature I highly value...And then there was this terrible bout of insomnia that struck on Friday night, and what was I supposed to do? Well, I started what I thought was going to be a terrible and tragic book that I would not be grateful to have read.
I'm glad I DID get over myself and my preconceived (and frankly pompous) notions regarding this book. It's a REALLY GOOD BOOK. It just is. It's not a "cancer book" as Hazel would say, and it's no Lurlene McDaniel tearjerker that you should only read when you're a menstruating 13 year old girl.
The characters are real, wholly fleshed out, smart, funny, and relatable. I mean, it just takes me RIGHT BACK to being a teenager - granted I wasn't terminally ill, but the themes of being a teenager in an adult's world still rang true. Sometimes they JUST DON'T GET IT!
I love that the teens in this book were such thoughtful consumers of literature - a nice foil to a lot of the crap we read about millenials and their tech-addictions. These kids not only faced death head on, but really THOUGHT about mortality, religion, belief, consciousness, and the purpose of life, heroism, and love.
I'm not sure that I followed the heroism plot as much as some others have mentioned that they did - I feel more like Gus was using heroism as an overarching concept covering "making some kind of damn difference".
While I didn't shed any tears over this one, it did make me think, and I've been thinking for hours since I finished the book. I'm impressed with how Green handled DEATH and DYING and GRIEF and TEENAGE ANGST, and how humbled the characters made me feel by their strength, courage, and selflessness.
No, I'm not sad I swam with the tide on this one and read one of the most popular books in the genre. It's a good book, and I'm glad I got to spend some time with the remarkable young people Green portrayed.
"'There will come a time,' I said, 'when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this' - I gestured encompassingly - 'will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was a time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that's what everyone else does.'"
"'Not your fault, Hazel Grace. We're all just side effects, right?' 'Barnacles on the container ship of consciousness,' I said..
"'I am in love with you, he said quietly.'...'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 rue things. I'm in love with you, an 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.'"
"'You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!'"
"'It's bullshit. I hate it. But it sure was a privilege to love him, huh?' I nodded into his shirt. 'Gives you an idea how I feel about you,' he said. My old man. He always knew just what to say."
"...the problem is not suffering itself or oblivion itself but the depraved meaninglessness of these things, the absolutely inhuman nihilism of suffering. 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."
"I felt that I owed a debt to the universe that only my attention could repay, and also that I owed a debt to everybody who didn't get to be a person anymore and everyone who hadn't gotten to be a person yet."
"You of all people know it is possible to live with pain."
"...it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again."
"It was a kind of beautiful day, finally real summer, warm and humid - the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn't built for humans, we were built for the world."
"Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We're as likely to hurt the universe as to help it, and we're not likely to do either."...more
Similar world to that created in the "Uglies" series; it was neat to revisit. It felt very contrived to read this hot on the heals of "The Age of MiraSimilar world to that created in the "Uglies" series; it was neat to revisit. It felt very contrived to read this hot on the heals of "The Age of Miracles", though - a very different view of the future!...more
"But it feels good to love a thing and not expect anything back. It feels good to not get an argument or any pushiness or any rumors or any bullshit."But it feels good to love a thing and not expect anything back. It feels good to not get an argument or any pushiness or any rumors or any bullshit. It's love without strings. It's ideal."
"'So how come you didn't go to one of a hundred normal bars to dance and drink, then?' Mom says. See that? Normal Bars. As opposed to, you know, homosexual bars. I think we might have to revoke that FOTG badge, Mom."
"There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance."
"I figure out what confuses people so much about other people being gay. They think it's all about sex."
"All those people who are chained here thinking that this little shit matters are so freaking shortsighted. Dude, what matters is if you're happy. What matters is your future. What matters is that we get out of here in one piece. What matters is finding the truth of our own lives, not caring about what other people think is the truth of us!"...more
Let me start by saying this book should NEVER be classified as YA - the ONLY thing YA about it is the age of the protagonists.
Let me also say that, iLet me start by saying this book should NEVER be classified as YA - the ONLY thing YA about it is the age of the protagonists.
Let me also say that, if I ever do end up writing (ahem, finishing) a story or a book or a memoir, if I could be even one-tenth as talented and successful in my word-crafting as Danforth proves she is in this debut novel, I will feel as though I have accomplished something great and worthy and incredible.
This book transcends so much of my ability to describe it's awesomeness that I'm really at a loss for how to review it. I had a late night of not being able to sleep last night, so I basically powered through the last 200 pages in the last few hours of yesterday and the first few hours of today.
I think this book is kind, smart, and important, just like we were taught in "the help". Aside from the queer theme (read: queer being anything other than the very narrow definition of heterosexuality and gender roles that is considered the cultural 'norm' and reinforced through perpetual portrayal in most of the media...I'm liking this new word in my vocab, and the discussions we had around it during 'safe zone' training last week [the timing of which sort of blew the issues of this book into monstrous proportions, because, well...WE HAD JUST TALKED IN DEPTH ABOUT ALL OF THIS F*CKED UP STUFF!]), the crafting of the characters and their situations was so true and intense as to be painful. There were so many "ohmygodyesmetoo" or "otherpeoplethinkthattoo?" or "holyshitsheclimbedinmyheadrobbedmythoughtsandwrotethemdown" moments as to be eerie.
If you are like me (and I recognize that not everyone is...but if you're reading this, you may just be, at least a little..), this book will break your heart. At least 100 times. And you will shake your head, and form shocked, disdainful "o" shapes with your mouth as you read, and you will press your lips into a hard thin line as you read some more, and you will have to consciously unclench your jaw, and you will feel, and feel, and feel.
That's about all I can say about it. You just hafta read it. Be ready to question your assumptions, especially if you've not had a lot of experience with queer culture. Be ready to enjoy some seriously awesome early 90s music references. Be ready to start to question your own motivations, "sins", and "icebergs" (you'll get it when you read it).
Supa quick plot summary for the future me in the unlikely event that I forget why, in 10 years, this book was so powerful: Eastern Montana, regular girl, maybe a little tomboyish, gets caught doing something that makes her super Christian town incredibly uncomfortable, gets sent to be "reformed" (so. many. ways. reformed. re-formed). Personal discover, triumph, and strength.
I read this so fast that there are 3 more weeks left on my library loan, if anyone in the Triangle wants to borrow.
“I felt all the ways in which this world seemed so, so enormous--the height of the trees, the hush and tick of the forest, the shift of the sunlight and shadows--but also so, so removed.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
But if renting all those movies had taught me anything more than how to lose myself in them, it was that you only actually have perfectly profound little moments like that in real life if you recognize them yourself, do all the fancy shot work and editing in your head, usually in the very seconds that whatever is happening is happening. And even if you do manage to do so, just about never does anyone else you’re with at the time experience that exact same kind of moment, and it’s impossible to explain it as it’s happening, and then the moment is over.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
...and there I was sending all the wrong signals to the right people in the wrong ways. Again, again, again.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
“I told myself that I didn't need any of that shit, but there it was, repeated to me day after day after day. And when you're surrounded by a bunch of mostly strangers experiencing the same thing, unable to call home, tethered to routine on ranchland miles away from anybody who might have known you before, might have been able to recognize the real you if you told them you couldn't remember who she was, it's not really like being real at all. It's plastic living. It's living in a diorama. It's living the life of one of those prehistoric insects encased in amber: suspended, frozen, dead but not, you don't know for sure.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
“Everything was heightened the way it always is when summer is slipping away to fall, and you're younger than eighteen, and all you can do is suck your cherry Icee and let the chlorine sting your nose, all the way up into the pockets behind your eyes, and snap your towel at the pretty girl with the sunburn, and hope to do it all again come June.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
“On the screen it rained and rained confetti, for minutes, and that glitter-rain, plus the cameras flashing and the lights from the billboards and the awesome mass of the crowds in their shiny hats and toothy smiles, made the world pop and shine and blur in a way that makes you sad to be watching it all on your TV screen, in a way that makes you feel like, instead of bringing the action into your living room, the TV cameras are just reminding you of how much you're missing, confronting you with it, you in your pajamas, on your couch, a couple of pizza crusts resting in some orange grease on a paper plate in front of you, your glass of soda mostly flat and watery, the ice all melted, and the good stuff happening miles and miles away from where you're at.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post...more