First I have to say: Thank you John Green
for not letting me down. I was so afraid the end, or even the middle, would greatly disappoint me, but it was close enough to perfect.
Hilarious! Love the humor! The writing style and storytelling is so engaging. The book was very hard to put down.
I love that Hazel is a vegetarian for animal suffering reasons, and that her family celebrates ½ birthdays as I did and do for kids (and I share a birthday with Hazel, and I love sharing birthdays with book characters), and that she is intelligent and articulate, is philosophical, and has a fabulous sense of humor, and that she is honest. I really love Hazel.
I also enjoyed so many of the other characters, major and minor, virtually all of them.
I was worried at some points because it seems as though in every young adult book the main teen characters have to have not just a love interest, but a fully formed, too adult relationship. Here, it turns out, I ended up enjoying the relationship. It felt real for these characters, and it worked.
Most of the book takes place in Indiana and I have a good friend there and have been there and so I enjoyed the setting. Amsterdam and the Anne Frank House make an appearance too, and I loved vicariously visiting; it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go.
I did hate that the Support Group was so Christian, so religious; maybe those kids didn’t mind, but it sure didn’t seem inclusive, and I found myself wondering whether there were alternative support groups available. (Yes, these kids and their situations seemed that real.) I did appreciate the philosophizing about religious matters that Hazel and Gus do.
One thing I admired so much about this book is that it doesn’t glorify cancer or leave out its suffering. To me, that’s crucial when writing about cancer, whether the account is fiction or non-fiction. And it often doesn’t happen.
This book should be on all teen hospital units. I know that those units carefully screen which books they shelve and I have a sinking feeling many might deliberately exclude this one, but that would be a huge mistake. The kids would enjoy reading this book, and anyone who felt like reading it would not be harmed by it.
I always like cancer stories, fictional and non-fiction, so I knew this book would probably be my cup of tea. (This is a mastery issue: ever since I was 11, and saw my mother die from cancer, I have dreaded nothing more than getting cancer, and would not find my own cancer story one bit entertaining. I've since learned to be justly terrified of ALS too, but cancer remains my biggest fear. And fire, but the latter would be a quick story.)
A note: I loved how in the acknowledgments in the back of the book he mentions the book The Emperor of All Maladies
, a book I started a while back and am enjoying, though for quite a while I’ve been on page 250 of 571.
I want to add some thoughts, some posted in the comments below but that I want in the review proper:
I did see one plot point coming from afar but another I thought would come did not, and I was grateful for that!!!
Yes, it's hilarious, but no, I am not callous. It's also tragic and sad and powerfully emotional. I felt so many emotions, including infuriated.
This book was so beautifully written.