Books Make Me Happy

Why I Love “The Fault In Our Stars”

It’s one of my favorite books! It’s about teenagers with cancer and…

It’s hard to explain to some people how I – a very old lady of 38 – can love a book written for young adults so much that I got words from that book permanently marked on my body. A book about two kids with cancer, one who very openly discusses their “terminal” diagnosis from early on in the book. The second you see the word “terminal” you know this book is going to break your heart. How could I love a book like that so much? Especially as someone who often says she wants to feel happy/joy with her books and movies? I can not count how many times I’ve angrily expressed hatred over a book/movie/tv show by saying something like, “It’s entertainment! It’s supposed to make me happy!”

Yet I’ve sobbed through the book about kids with cancer several times…and still, in a weird and twisted way, claim that it makes me happy.

I guess, in time for the movie, this would be a good week to put my affection for the book into words.

The first reason is obvious to anyone who has been around here for awhile. I love the book because my kid loves the book. I have written many times here how I think a key element to maintaining a strong relationship with your kids as the grow older, is learning to love the things they love. That way, at the end of the day where – maybe, you had to dole out discipline for bad grades or missing curfew – you can still get excited about the release of an album, or a book, or a movie together. That “thing” that I shared with E his whole life has been books. He introduced me to John Green before The Fault In Our Stars even came out, but we both adored it so much that we both inked our bodies with words from it…and that love for the book became a bond for us.

tattoos

But the other reason is that the book spoke to me as someone who watched a loved one die from cancer. Sometimes books and movies and TV shows gloss over the dying process. The patient is clean and in bed and everyone cries as the sick family members slowly fades away. But that’s not reality. Death from cancer is messy and these two kids in this book have already had it ruin their quality of life in many physical ways. But they are also open about how it affects them emotionally. There are stories about brain tumors changing the personality of a person, and there are stories about healthy people abandoning sick people when they just get too sick. There are harsh realities to cancer and TFiOS didn’t gloss over those entirely like some stories and movies do. Especially the ugly, sickly, can’t control my bodily functions part…TFiOS gave those moments their truth but also showed the beauty in them in a way I didn’t think was possible. I always wish my Dad had fought harder and would have let me care for him in the ways some people in this book need care. But, Green also does a great job in showing how much the person also hates themselves as their body fades them, and that’s why my Dad didn’t fight. He had lived a long and healthy and full life, he didn’t want to go out watching his body disintegrate even more than it already had.

And the final reason is that sometimes…what you need most in your life…is a damn good cry. And this book somehow gave me that in a way I didn’t realize I even needed. It gave me relief from my grief without breaking me in half. Even in the sadness and the darkness there was always still beauty in the truth, in the life, and in the love that was woven in the pages of this book. I cried for the characters and the moments in this book, but I also cried for my Dad, and for myself, for anyone who has watched anyone in their lives fade and die. I cried for anyone who has died after watching their bodies fail piece by piece. And while all of that was so sad, the cry was rejuvenating, it let me wash all of that away for a time and let go of it all. It helped me grieve in ways I didn’t know I needed to grieve. I’ve read it 4 times cover-to-cover since it came out, most often when I’m needing to let go of the pain again. The book gave me that in a way I never expected.

So, I’ll pack my tissues on Thursday night as E and I go to an early showing of the movie to sob with every other fan in this country simultaneously.

And we’ll love every minute of it.

9 thoughts on “Why I Love “The Fault In Our Stars””

  1. yes to everything you just said. except i’m not brave enough to get a tattoo.

    i’m always telling people to read TFiOS, but when they ask me why i’m at a loss for words. i’m like: “just read it!” now, i will make them read this blog post. thank-you!

  2. Yes! This.
    I just read the book to my husband and girlies, partly because I knew they would not finish it in time for the movie, and partly because it gave me an excuse to read it, again, for the 4th time.
    I initially picked this book up in the airport on the way home from Colorado, and I read it cover to cover on the flight, fighting back sobs and gulping back tears, as I did not want the other passengers to think there was something actually physically wrong with me.
    Reading the book out loud, I got to see their reactions to the words, and I got to share that moment with them, when they find out how ugly cancer is and how joyous it can be to have those people in your life that love you no matter what. I didn’t cry on this read through, but I know it’s because I was too focused on getting it right, for them. I didn’t want them to lose the compassion because they couldn’t figure out what I was saying behind the sobs.

    I am going to integrate the book into the next portion of my sleeve, in some way. It affected me in so many ways, and I can’t bear to let it go, just yet.

  3. Thanks Kim; I totally relate to this post having gone through 2 terminal illnesses with both my parents. My mom who was a beautician was totally deveststed when she lost her hair and unfortunately she just gave up the fight. My dad who had suffered so long for over a year fought the brave fight and I was releaved when he finally got a much deserved rest.

  4. My 13 year old son had already read the book and I just finished it this week. We are going to see it on Friday for my birthday, I’m so excited!!

  5. as usual, you put into words what i’ve struggled to explain to myself at times, much less others.

    my plan is to start re-reading today before the movie…fingers crossed “life” doesn’t try and get in the way of that! ๐Ÿ™‚

    xo

  6. So flippin’ jealous that you all get to go to the early showing… if it had been at Monaco or Carmike (Rave), I’d be there, too. As it is, I’m not sure when I’ll get to go. ๐Ÿ™

    I was going through a list of quotes from the book earlier today (seeing how many my daughter could finish.. that was a fun game) and came to Isaac’s “eulogy” for Gus. I couldn’t get through the last part without crying, because it was just such a fitting tribute to a best friend. (“But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.”)

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