A few days ago, I finished reading Tom Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and I still haven’t quite recovered from it. I read a random comment on Reddit when I first started the book saying that it had a “horribly depressing ending.” Yep, “horribly depressing” sums it up pretty well I think.
Of course it’s upsetting to read about young teenagers with cancer! I was horribly depressed halfway through the first chapter. Their entire lives are weaved in and out hospitals, prescriptions, surgeries, and experimental devices to extend life, and it’s utterly heartbreaking because it’s what happens to some people. It’s a reminder that life is a constant gamble and that every day should be valued and lived as if it’s your last. (Sorry for the cheesy cliche, but it felt right.)
The characters I felt worst for, however, were the parents. I don’t even know how I feel about the prospect of myself having children (maaayybbee one? maybe?), but if anything this book only further deters me. I’m already worried about me and my family dying way more than I should be – why add another person into that mix!? In the book, Hazel pays particular attention to her parents and how she’s a “grenade”; she is going to die and that’s never a secret from the reader, but the when is a little questionable. All that is known is that cancer will kill her and take out anyone within close proximity to her. And Green beautifully and tragically depicts how difficult that is for the parents to accept; that no matter how many times they repeat it to themselves and how well they understand the disease, it will not make the actual day any easier. I think that is the saddest part of it, because there are interactions and moments that they share with their daughter where a reader can sense the tension and the growing fear/anxiety of her inevitable passing.
In addition to this scared, maternal figure who suddenly emerged from deep within me, my hypochondriac self came with her. OBVIOUSLY A BOOK ABOUT CANCER IN YOUNG PEOPLE WILL FREAK ME OUT. Whhhhyyyy did I think this book was a good idea!? The second I finished it, I felt random pains that could obviously only be bone cancer and a shortness of breath that I can only describe as feeling very tumorous. You say panic attack, I say I’m dying.
Clearly this book stressed me out a bit. I did like it, but would I/should I read it again – hell no. However, if you are stable enough to not let reading about cancer make you believe you undoubtedly have cancer, then I say definitely read this book. It’s a very good read, and shows a lesser known side to the world’s most notorious disease.