John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’
The hottest book on the shelves – and one of the most-watched movies your students will be seeing this summer – is The Fault In Our Stars. Here are 10 reasons you should be reading TFIOS, minus any spoilers – so feel free to read without fret!
1. Hazel Grace Lancaster is a well-written, complex character
The protagonist is just brimming with life. In a sarcastic and cynical way, Hazel is the most alive person in the book despite being on the throes of death. She deals with her cancer (thyroid and lung) by accepting her end, and observes the world from this perch. I love students like this; they’re the ones who will sit in the back and doodle, and when they do participate, it’s usually with some witty retort. Hazel is filled with these comments, and she shares her thoughts with the reader. Note – her comments are not necessarily appropriate for the average elementary school reader!
2. Augustus Waters is the student we all wish we taught
I don’t think anybody can read this book and not fall in love with Augustus Waters. He’s just the type of student we wish we had in our class. Augustus is the young man who would say something enlightening and/or hilarious in the midst of our most boring lesson. “Gus,” as many others call him, is intelligent, ebullient, and a true leader, despite bone cancer robbing him of his leg. He’s the type of boy that girls would equally love to show off to their friends and parents.
3. The relationship between teens and parents is something all our students connect to
Hazel’s mother is overbearing. But how can you fault her? She’s the Lancasters’ only child, and that child has to wear an oxygen system to help her breathe. Hazel wants to just retreat to the solace of her room, but mom pushes her out the door. The tug-of-war between Mrs. Lancaster & Hazel is something that every kid can relate.
4. It’s about juvenile cancer
The most alarming, debilitating disease any of us can contract today is cancer. We know the roots of some of cancers involve smoking, poor diet, and other factors, but to what extent we’re not entirely sure; it’s a mysterious plague. It’s tragic when anybody we know contracts cancer – but the sting is so much more crippling when it’s a kid coping with it.
5. Yet it’s about more than that
The Fault In Our Starts is a story about being a teen. It’s about fitting in. It’s about our relationships with others. It’s about our interactions with mom and dad while watching TV. It’s about finding a meaning in life. It’s racy. It deals in the intricate balance conformity and individuality. It’s about a kid’s past, present, and not-so-lengthy future.
6. It’s a love story at heart
Just when you think that all the love stories of the world have been heard, John Green (the author) meticulously presents a love story between 2 teens with cancer. One walks around with oxygen tanks, the other limps along with a prosthesis. Their bond is sometimes painfully platonic, yet gorgeously connected. It’s simple, but it’s not. It’s special, and yet it’s not unrealistic. It’s Romeo and Juliet, but it’s also your next door neighbor’s love. Most of all, it will fill your heart – and pull at your emotions from first to last page.
7. There’s an element of surprise
For all the predictions readers make as they read the book, they’ll be put through enough turns to feast on this book. Hazel’s favorite author, Peter van Houten, is an enigma. Of course, so is Augustus.
8. It’s a quick read
You’ll be able to finish this book in an afternoon by the beach. And then you’ll probably re-read it again.
9. It’s a movie
Revile books turning into movies all you’d like – but if a movie helps put a book in a student’s hands, then I, for one, love movies for that reason. Just remember to remind your students that the book is ALWAYS better.
10. Your students are reading it
If you look around your room and notice that a book like The Fault In Our Stars seems as omnipresent as standardized testing, it needs to be in your personal library.