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2013/08/11

The Quote That Changed My Life: The Fault in Our Stars

By Jess Fitzi


John Green, a New York Times Best Selling Author, changed my life with his books. The man is nothing short of a genius with a pen and paper. The Fault in Our Stars, Green’s most recent and by far most popular novel, is truly a work of magic. The book takes on the touching and heartbreaking subject of cancer, in a way that is surprisingly unique, in comparison to previously told stories concentrating on the disease. There is a certain type of bond that the reader develops with the character from whose perspective The Fault in Our Stars is written in, as it is not simply told in the eyes of someone suffering from cancer, or a person who is dealing with a loved one having the illness; it conquers both aspects, which takes the bond so much further, as you are constantly hit with the realization that not only is this character fighting for her own life, she is fighting for the life of someone she loves. Hazel Lancaster, who suffers from a rare form of thyroid cancer, tries her best to help Augustus Waters, who she describes as ‘The great love of her life’, stay strong through his osteosarcoma, while also trying to survive and stay healthy herself. The two teenagers go through hell and back together, with their positive and humorous attitudes helping them with their long and painful struggle to live for each other.

Hazel & Augustus drawn by a fan
In every book, there is one character that you generally get the most attached to, a chapter that really pulls you in, or a plot point that you are unable to get out of your head, even after you have finished reading, etc. There are these certain aspects in every book, that make the story so real and intense.  It truly makes you feel as if there is nothing else in the world except these characters and the conflicts they are facing. In the case of The Fault in Our Stars, there was one line that took the already incredible and inspirational lives of Hazel and Augustus to a whole new level. While helping seek revenge on their friend Isaac’s ex-girlfriend, the two are involved in an egging of said ex-girlfriend’s car. After the scandalous act, Isaac, who lost his eyesight due to a surgery that saved him from his diagnosed eye cancer, requests that Hazel take a photo of him and Augustus, claiming that if one day science permits him to see, he would want to view that very moment. As the chapter came to a close, Hazel snapped the photo and the very last sentence reads, “I never took another picture of him", in reference to Augustus.
           
This sentence, these seven words, changed the way I will read forever. I read this line at two o’clock in the morning, and it turned me into an over-tired, emotional puddle of sobbing. While this quote does not seem like it would have so much weight resting on it, the world of Hazel and Augustus became more real to me at the moment I read those words than any book has ever made me feel. Up until this point in The Fault in Our Stars, it was not made certain that Augustus would not survive his illness, though it was heavily hinted at. The reality of both the novel and the heartbreak that cancer causes sunk in the second those words traveled from my eyes to my brain, and now rest very heavily on my heart. There is no describing how I felt in that exact moment, how there was nothing else happening around me, besides the life of this girl, who did not realize that this picture would be the last one she ever took of the love of her life. While Hazel had obviously already worked out that it was not at all likely she would live happily-ever-after with Augustus for much longer, the idea of death becomes so much more real when it is absolutely true that it is quickly on its way. This book and specifically the quote, has given me the motivation and inspiration I needed, both to view and live my life differently, as well as start working on my own personal novel, that deals with the struggle of cancer. Reading something like this, something with so much emotion, can really make you see people, as well as the world in general, differently. It makes you appreciate just how incredibly beautiful life really is and that the time we spend here truly is a gift that should not be taken for granted.
           
John Green
This single quote is what makes The Fault in Our Stars the most incredible and beautiful book I have ever read. While I already had the experience of letting such a wonderful book be a part of my life, I had the incredible opportunity of meeting John Green, the man who unintentionally changed my life, as well as a great number of other readers’. While standing in line to meet him, all I could think about is what I had to say to him about this quote. I planned to let him know just how much his book, specifically that sentence, means to me, but when he greeted me, I was unable to get the words out. Now, you may be thinking that I was just having a panicked moment because I was meeting my favorite author, which may well be true. However, I believe whole-heartedly that it was so much more than that. It was such an honor for me, as a writer, to be in the presence of someone who is able to write something so inspirational that it actually took my breath away. I was able to have a short conversation with John, but I was unable to think of anything other than the fact that I was standing in front of a man, who, with seven simple words, changed my life, as well as my perspective as a reader and a writer.

As a slight history of the making of The Fault in Our Stars; at a convention in 2009, John Green had the pleasure of meeting Esther Earl. Esther was, at the time, a fifteen-year-old girl, who suffered from the same illness as Hazel, John's main character from TFiOS. This was no coincidence. At the convention, John had a book signing that Esther attended. While John does not usually hug fans, due to time constraints and comfort levels, etc. Esther asked him for a hug, which he agreed to, making Esther kind of a big deal in the community of his fans. After her meeting with John, Esther was obviously ecstatic, as she was a diehard fan of both John's books and his video blog, which he creates with his brother, Hank. Esther made a video discussing her excitement on her own vlog, which got John's attention and he took an interest in Esther and befriended her. After he learned more about her disease, John asked for her permission to write a novel with her in mind. Thus TFiOS was born. Sadly, Esther passed in 2010, at just sixteen-years-old and did not have the honor of surviving long enough to read John's book, but we all keep her in our thoughts and hearts while reading it ourselves.

this star won't go out
Esther Grace Earl
The name Esther is Persian for "star" and taking Esther's positive and inspiring attitude and life into account, her family started a foundation called "This Star Won't Go Out," implying that even though Esther is no longer with us, she is a star that will never go out and she will never be forgotten. The purpose of TSWGO is to help and support families struggling with children who have cancer. John and Hank do endless promotion for TSWGO and merchandise with the initialism is sold on their online store, DFTBA Records. Esther has inspired so many people that she will never get to meet but luckily for John, he was able to be touched by Esther's incredible personality before the world lost her. Ultimately, giving him the motivation him to write TFiOS which has changed and encouraged so many people.

For more information visit John Green's official website: www.johngreenbooks.com or Esther's memorial website: www.tswgo.org

1 comment:

  1. I was not prepared for the emotional baggage that came with this book, but I loved it. It was so amazing and I have fallen in love with John Green's books. All of them...

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