In Praise of The Fault

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I’m going to make a confession. I didn’t want to read this book. I had a friend telling me how great it was for quite a while and I just didn’t want to hear it. It’s a cancer book — that’s all I thought. There’s enough real life in my real life, thank you very much.

And then another friend read it and she told me as a young adult author, I HAD to read this book — that it was a matter of literary importance. How could I argue with that?

So I bought the book, and I read the book, and I laughed and cried over the book. And to my surprise, I don’t regret it.

Yes, it’s a cancer book and it’s very sad. BUT … BUT it’s not about cancer. I didn’t believe the people who told me that, but it’s true. It’s about these amazing, intelligent, spirited, unique, and witty teens who come to love each other fiercely and in the process win the hearts of readers. And I tell you this, I have been effectively swooned by Augustus Waters.

There are so many things I could ramble about that I loved in this book. The fact that the characters were smart and quirky and they reminded me so much of myself at that age. The fact that the writing style was refreshing and wonderful — just plain GREAT writing. The dialogue … oh the dialogue was remarkable. THIS made me proud to be a young adult author. This showed an incredible respect for teenagers, especially those who are the exception. Teens who are smart and quirky and special. Teens who GET life even in their young, naive, and sometimes small ways.

Another aspect of this book that I feel is worthy of praise is this: Hazel and Augustus have great parents. So often in YA, the main characters are often victims of dysfunctional families and/or absentee/neglectful parents. That’s no insult to other authors — I’ve done this often myself. But it’s rare and beautiful to see teen characters fall in love without sneaking around to grope each other while their parents are none the wiser.  Not so in this case. Hazel’s parents were great. Gus’s parents were great. That alone made the story so incredibly uplifting despite its obvious sadness. As a new parent myself, this meant so much to me to see in a YA book. You CAN be a remarkable teen — a remarkable main character — without your parents being villains or missing in action. I love that. Thank you, John Green, so much for that. 

Gus and Hazel are flawed and beautiful, and depict so perfectly the notion of soul mates because this is real life: you fight, you screw up, you have goals that aren’t realistic, you might be naive, things matter to you that shouldn’t. But that one special person, with all their equal and parallel faults, will still GET you and LOVE you come hell or high water — come cancer and dying. And that’s beautiful. 

I want love like Hazel and Gus, though I’d like mine to last quite a while longer.


Source: ER Arroyo Backup