I am thinking of ways to word this so that I don’t sound like every other teenage reader. I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green within the matter of a few hours, the fastest I’ve ever read a book. At this point, it’s still fresh in my mind, and I’m a bit taken aback, I suppose. I can’t explain my feelings right now. The book floored me. I spent the moments after closing the hard end cover contemplating the meaning of, well, life, maybe. Maybe the universe. Maybe the purpose of existing, and the purpose of meaning.
Before I explain my cryptic feelings, I should briefly summarize the book. Hazel is a girl with cancer, Augustus is an overly-attractive cancer survivor—the two fall in love, contemplate the meaning of life, etc etc. Honestly, I can’t explain it. It would be a disgrace to John Green if I tried to explain it. But I have yet to talk to a person, male or female, who hasn’t liked this book. AKA—please, please, please read it. The characters in the book consistently point out the clichés in their lives, which makes it all realistic.
After reading this book, Augustus and Hazel are basically people to me. I cried not at the expected scene of tragedy; rather, I cried at the moment that reached out to my heartstrings, and affected me in ways that other people wouldn’t understand (for the record, I don’t cry while reading). But I feel cheated by Green’s masterpiece. Everyone has read this book; everyone is fervently in love. I feel cheated because it isn’t special—in other words, I don’t feel unique by being moved by the book. I feel like Green’s words reach out to everyone as intensely as they did to me, but I’m trying to convince myself that this book was written for me—in the sense that I am the only person who can understand it, who can connect to it.
I have this theory in my mind that everyone has a book that reaches them in unforeseen ways—a book that allows them to divulge into the words, the story, the characters; a book that makes us wonder who we are and what our purpose in life is. I am convinced that in my sixteen years, The Fault in Our Stars is that book for me. Although I’m thoroughly impressed by Green’s wit and style, it was the characters who really affected me. Before this, I read An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska by Green, two books that were inarguably well-written and touching, but not as spectacular as people made them out to be. Yet Hazel and Augustus must have triggered something within me—the way they were so realistic, so charismatic, so in touch with themselves and their surroundings. I guess there are parts of the book—tears that were shed—that can only linger in mind…..emotions and memories and thoughts that are too valuable to be shared. It’s almost like by keeping them to myself, I can preserve the sensation I had after reading it.
Immediately after reading the last words, my first thought was, “I can’t ever be a writer.” I don’t think I can; rather, I don’t think I want to live in the shadow of writers who compel the reader like John Green. No matter how dignified my words are, or complex, I will never be able to touch a reader like his book touched me. I am suddenly in this pessimistic mood that makes me hate my writing.
Ironically, Paris Amour was chosen to be broadcasted on VPR sometime during the year. This is exciting for me—this is all I ever wanted. Yet, I’m drowning in melancholy. I realize that more people will see my writing, that my first chapter of my so-called “book” is somewhat successful. Yet, I can’t help but feel as if there’s no point to writing anymore. I’d rather just bury myself in the words of other writers.
I don’t want to reveal too much about The Fault in Our Stars, because I believe that each word should be taken as a surprise. But one scene of the book takes place at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, the same place which inspired my piece Dear Anne. This may have been the first tear-jerker. Here, Green pointed out the same snippits that I mentioned in my 8th grade piece—the markings of growth on the wall, the TVs with concentration camps, the museum lines that veiled the history. Maybe these are all the generic facets of the museum, yet I felt as if I was back in the same spot, reading my own thoughts. Ironically, Dear Anne was the piece that prompted two phone calls from readers around the state, who were moved by my words and maturity, and inspired by my thoughts. To this day, it’s the one piece of writing I’m still proud of. I often wonder how John Green feels writing these books that move millions of people—mine affected two, and that itself is one of my happiest and proudest moments.
I think I’m experiencing an after-book high—the type of high I aspire to get after any book. I don’t want to start anything new today, just so I can keep this sensation. I think tomorrow I’ll either finish the Hunger Games series grudgingly, or start This Side of Paradise by Fitzgerald.
I just wanted to share two quotes that kind of struck me from the book. Out of one of the most quotable books I’ve ever read, these two, for some reason, were the most meaningful or interesting to me:
- “In freedom, most people find sin.”
- “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations”
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