Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lesson #4 - The Fault in Our Stars...

What am I feeling?  "My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations," Augustus once said, and this is how I feel right now, sitting in front of my computer, in my livingroom, quite speechlessI finally decided to dive into The Fault in Our Stars, the book that everyone seems to have read, and loved; the book that has made our March Madness Sweet 16 list; the book that was made into a movie that everyone ran to watch at the movie theater. I was afraid going into it because I am not one for sad stories that seem too real, since experiencing it with my mom when she almost died of breast cancer or the day that I lost a student during my first year of teaching in kindergarten.  But I shall attempt to sort these feelings out.  Reading a book in just one day, plays on one's emotions; every second of the day is consumed from the words moving across the page.    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...then a plot  hiccup "twist" named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group. Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten. Completely.

I had no problem connecting with Augustus or Hazel, which I believe, is why this was the book that placed me on an emotional roller coaster ride.  Hazel has this really sarcastic, dry sense of humor that I tend to really enjoy in characters.   She made an otherwise serious and overwhelmingly emotional tale full of surprising laughter and occasional smiles; something that was completely unpredictable.  Am I the only person out there who wonders what it would be like to be in a situation similar to the one Hazel is in?   Having the opportunity to look inside two teenage cancer patients' brains, is tough to forget and tough to experience as an adult.  No adult wants to see a teenager succumb to an illness; to suffer; to have to deal with adult-like situations.  Not only did I not want the book to end, but I often think of Hazel and Augustus as if I knew them.  I feel like my entire view on grief and pain has been altered. 

This book is different than the usual cancer story because John Green was brutally honest. We step into the whole story--the worry about the family once their gone, the journey to death, accepting ones fate, low points where the pain is so immense that they want to die, and the acknowledgement of "cancer perks." These perks aren't your "Make a Wish Foundation," perks but being given a license after failing your driving test three times with your prosthetic leg because you got your right foot amputated and can't do anything with your left. This perk is not the free trip to Disney with Justin Bieber... the things that people do for the sick people. 

I know it’s not fair to compare the powerful The Fault in Our Stars by John Green to Wonder by R.J. Palacio, but how can I not? It’s not that the plots are similar, but the way that the authors pull the readers into the heart and mind of a character struggling with a illness or a birth deformity.  It's how they follow a similar path and a similar theme that completely tore me apart, by affecting me and my heart.   The Fault in our Stars is so honest about the adversity of surviving cancer through the characterization of Hazel and her voice and her seeing life for what it is and wishing it held more for her and the people around her.  It is real with no sugar coating.  I feel that even though I could strongly connect with characters in The Fault in Our Stars, I almost wanted to feel detached because I didn't want to relive my mom's battle with cancer, my nana's battle with cancer, my uncle's battle with cancer, or my aunt's battle with cancer....  August on the other hand, in Wonder made me just want to reach out and hug and protect him.  With The Fault in Our Stars...I almost feel as if I was trying to protect myself from sadness.  From adversity.  From life.

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