Let me start by saying that I read this book one night from about 2:00 AM to 5:00 AM and I am quite sure that it was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. This book was more than I could’ve ever hoped for it to have been. I am a person that empathizes with every character I read about to the point where I really do become depressed if I read books that are heartbreaking, and that is why I was very hesitant to pick up this book. However, I am so so so glad that I did.
The story follows Hazel, a 16 year old girl who was diagnosed with cancer when she was 13. Hazel is literally a living miracle as she was expected to pass away but ended up living due to a medicine that stopped the tumors from growing in her lungs. Through a teen cancer support group she meets Augustus Waters and her life is changed forever. This may sound like a story about how cancer has affected a girl, but in reality it was a story about a girl who just happened to have cancer, and that dear readers is the beauty behind this story.
The characters in this book were absolutely amazing. Hazel was an absolutely wonderful protagonist. Although she was living with tumors in her lungs and having to roll around an oxygen tank, she was so surprisingly…normal. She was smart, funny, sassy, and independent – everything that I look for in a female protagonist. Hazel never felt sorry for herself or for others; she was honest. Her sense of humor was so similar to my own i.e.: sarcastic with a side of snarky. She felt very authentic throughout the whole book. Augustus Waters may not fit my normal definition of SAHWOON, but he was definitely swoon-worthy. He was…how do I put it…odd. He was always himself around others and around Hazel, his poetic and energetic self. He shared her sense of humor and had some definite similarities, but he felt different..so alive. Both him and Hazel felt very old for their respective ages, which is totally understandable considering the fact that they have had to deal with sooooo much more than other people their age. The other characters in the book were enjoyable as well so kudos to Mr. Green for creating a cast of characters that rounded out the story quite well.
The plot of the book felt very thought out and was definitely not cliche at all. We always hear stories of people with cancer and how it ruins their life, ect. and not to bash on them or anything (because let’s face it, cancer is horrible and it does ruin lives), but this book really transcended that stereotype. Going into this book, I thought it wasn’t going to be happy and to be quite honest I expected a sob story about a girl who was sick. This book totally surprised me in that it was not a “feel sorry for me” story, it was a “these are the cards I was dealt and I’ll live with it” story. I felt grief and loss but also love, tenderness, and happiness.
While I was reading this book, I literally had to put it down for about five minutes so I could sob and curl up in a fetal position in my bedroom. I’m not talking little tears and sniffles, I’m talking gut wrenching sobs and tears the size of a small country. I never knew that this book would elicit such a response from me, but it totally did. The tears were not really tears of sadness, but rather tears of happiness and love. The story really isn’t meant to be a sad one, just one with sad circumstances. I started writing this review the morning after I read it, and it has been almost a week, but I just couldn’t find the words to describe how wonderful this book was. This review definitely did not do it the justice it deserves, but please if you have a chance, read this book. It is a story of love, loss, and laughs. For what this book was supposed to be, it was perfect.