It has overtones of Nicholas Sparks - think 'A Walk to Remember' - only better.
John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" is written from the point of view of Hazel Grace, a wisecracking 16-year-old diagnosed with terminal cancer. Unlike the typical tragic heroine, Hazel is uninterested in impressing others with unwavering fortitude in the face of death and disease. Her goal is to be as normal a teenager as possible, refusing to let the oxygen tank she's forced to drag around with her get in the way.
When Hazel meets the charming Augustus Waters at a local support group, she does what any adolescent would do in the face of an intelligent, gorgeous boy - she falls in love. The book is a chronicle of Hazel and Gus' whirlwind romance, which at times is heartbreaking, as they try to come to terms with their separate illnesses (Gus has osteosarcoma and had to have a leg amputated); but also hilarious, as they stumble through the rocky road of teenage love together, quoting their favorite books and philosophers along the way.
Ironically, it's because Hazel tries so hard to resist becoming a heroine - she admits to depression, weakness, and waves of anger and frustration - that she becomes such a good one. Her struggle makes readers appreciate their own good fortune while forcing them to consider their own mortality. Green brings to the fore the kind of strength wrought by love, without overstepping the level of cheesiness required by any story about teenage romance.
It's a book that has revelations big and small for all ages, and is worth every minute spent between its covers.
Suggestion: Read it before seeing the movie (directed by John Boone), due for release in 2014.
Without pain, how could we know joy?' This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.