I heard about John Green a few years back in those early months of my blog, and I just knew I would love him, but didn't realize how much until my thiI heard about John Green a few years back in those early months of my blog, and I just knew I would love him, but didn't realize how much until my thirteen year old daughter thrust this book into my hands. Back then I took out his book that was making the book blog rounds, Paper Towns, and read the first chapter and loved his wit, his writing style, and storytelling ability. But for whatever reason I had to return it to the library and put John Green on my must read list someday when my TBR pile was down to a reasonable few dozen. (insert maniacal laugh here)
My thirteen year old was asking for this book when it first came out, and finally she had enough money to buy it herself, and as any mother would celebrate, she read it in just a few days, could not put it down, and said the one thing that is music to every book-addicted-mother's ears after going to bed, "Just one more chapter, Mom!"
At one point in her reading she slowly came into my bedroom and said, "I'm so sad. This book is SO SAD!" But didn't tell me, knowing she wanted me to read it.
Once she was done, I started, and this book is one you will get into immediately. Like, within the first few sentences. Summarizing the plot is nearly impossible because there would be spoilers o'plenty, and I would never do that to you! I think the only way to safely summarize it is to quote the jacket cover here:
"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten."
The thing with John Green is, he's kind of a genius. And when I say "kind of" I mean he TOTALLY COMPLETELY FREAKING IS! I love the way he writes, and he successfully enters into the mind of a teenage girl with the ease of, well, a teenage girl, and how he does that is anybody's guess. There are so many gems in here that teens will love it as well as parents of said teens. It rings true in many ways, and some ways that many of us hope we never have to find out, like: What does it actually feel like to be teenager with a terminal illness? What is that like for their parents? Their friends? Somehow amidst the heart wrenching premise, John Green manages to make things funny. Hilarious, even. Not unlike the academy award winning film A Beautiful Life that brilliantly and mysteriously managed to make us laugh out loud within the storyline framed by the holocaust. John Green actually makes us laugh in the midst of children having cancer, I'm not even remotely kidding about this. Not to mention that in his acknowledgements (which I actually like to read) he thanks the "Nerdfighters, for being awesome" and a heart. AND he is a Potterhead, and I want him to marry my daughter even though he is too old and already taken. LOVE. HIM.
I also just love his whole writing "thing" he's got going on, like this:
"I did not speak to Augustus again for about a week. I had called him on the Night of the Broken Trophies, so per tradition it was his turn to call."
The "Night of the Broken Trophies". I love this. This may not make sense right now, but once you read it, you will understand the reference, but that's not important here, what IS important, however, is the fact that he describes an event as the Night of the Broken Trophies, which in and of itself is so deliciously funny, and not in a ha-ha way, but in a clever witty way, which is awesome.
Hazel's whole attitude is witty as well, but in a dark way, which makes it charming and blatantly honest:
"And yet still I worried. I liked being a person. I wanted to keep at it. Worry was yet another side effect of dying."
Hazel is as real a teenager as any literary fake one I have ever not met. Her "voice" is believable, and maybe it is because I happen to have a teenage girl in my midst it hit me more in the centre. And when I would get to certain parts I would text her and say:
ME: omg, I just got to the part with (the thing and the stuff and the woo) ELLIE: I KNOW, RIGHT? I WAS JUST LIKE, GAH. CAN'T WAIT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT!!
ME: (so and so stuff and things) Sobbing. Stupid book. ELLIE: OH MY GOD NOW YOU KNOW MY PAIN. CAN WE PLEASE CRY TOGETHER? PLEASE??
And even later---
ME: Just finished The Book. One of the best books I have read, like, ever. And even more stellar because you gave it to me.
This book has heart, soul, smarts, awesome nerdiness that I uphold as sacred, and did I mention HEART?
The only caveat I will add here is there needs to be a little packet of kleenex attached to the back, like the kind your grandma would carry in her purse, with the sides all discoloured and the plastic all feathery from being in there for so long. A person needs the kleenex when you read it.
So, just go and buy it, and read it, then tell everyone about it. Okay? Okay. ;0) ...more
The story takes place in early 20th century, on a little plot of land with a lighthouse. It kind of reminds me of a Jodi PicouI really loved this one!
The story takes place in early 20th century, on a little plot of land with a lighthouse. It kind of reminds me of a Jodi Picoult type story line, with plenty of room for opinion!
Here is the blurb from Simon and Schuster:
"After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them."
Stedman has crafted a stunning tale that will be great fodder for any book club as it is rife with moral dilemma. You will find yourself cheering alternately as the story unfolds, perhaps even surprising yourself as to which "side" you may land on!
She writes a very believable story that follows the correct social etiquette of the time, sometimes missing in other novels set in the same time period. I personally love reading books about solitary life, as I yearn for the life of a light keeper, or a park ranger, or a hairy hippy who rejects modern life for a log cabin deep in the woods. Sigh. I know I would probably go nutty after a few weeks, but on the busy days heavy with the loud buzzing of technology that is the backdrop of our lives these days, I really wish for the quite life that a day in 1900 looking after The Light would bring.
I highly recommend The Light Between Oceans! ...more