The Fault in Our Stars

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I had only vaguely heard about this book when it was selected for our book club.  I knew it was the latest, greatest, Young Adult read and expected to enjoy it as much as I did Twilight or The Hunger Games - and I did! 

On a scale of 1 - 5:

Sex:  1

Religion:  3 

Gruesome:  2

Suspense:  2

Morality:  3

Sex - Teens have sex one time but it is pretty non-descript.  There are a few mentions of "boobs".

Religion - The book doesn't support religion or do anything to advance the cause.  There are several discussions of religion and how the lead characters really don't believe much in it.   At the same time, the text is somehow supportive of those who do.

Gruesome - Just medically gross stuff, like vomit and such.

Suspense - There were a couple of things that I was hooked in by to see how they were resolved, but nothing super-suspenseful.   

Morality - The lead characters are essentially good and try to find the meaning of life.  Along the way they have pre-marital sex and interact with an alcoholic who tells it like he sees it.

This is the story of Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters.  They meet in a support group for kids with cancer and fall in love.  One of them dies before the story is done (it surprised me who so I won't ruin it for you) but during their brief love they talk deeply and philosophically about the meaning of life.  They are some very insightful 17 year olds.  The kind I would greatly enjoy knowing in real life.  For the most part they are respectful to their parents - except when they get anxious about their time running out too soon, and for that I almost can't blame them.

I listened to the story entirely on audio CD.  The recording is very pleasant and makes good voice distinctions.

After listening to a conversation with the author at the end of the CD set, I have come to the conclusion that the story is loosely based on teens with cancer that he has met throughout his life but the details are fictionalized.  There is no such drug that Hazel takes, there is no such band called "The Hectic Glow" and there is no book titled "An Imperial Affliction".  Mr. Green did recommend "The Emperor of all Maladies" as a resource.  I can see the similarities in the title, but the Emperor is not a fictional story.  Neither could I find a "Midnight Dawns" sci-fi series. 

Discussion Questions

How did you feel about the "side effect" line of thinking, e.g., "Nostalgia is a side effect of dying." and the many other side effects that dying has?

Did you think Van Houten would give them the answers?

Were you surprised when they "hooked up"?

Did you believe Gus was at the gas station when he called?

What part made you cry the most?

Discuss:  When Hazel told Gus this is all you get and that she wanted to be enough - could you relate?  Did it change how you see your world?

What most surprised you about the funeral?

Discuss: "The voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams come true."

Theme Ideas

Play music from the motion picture since there is no actual "Hectic Glow" music to play.

Set your TV to show a series of America's Next Top Model or Top Chef.

Serve vegan enchiladas like Hazel's first dinner with the Waters family.

Serve "breakfast food" at a non-breakfast time.

Serve cocoa in honor of the Van Houtens.

Serve champagne in paper (Winnie the Pooh) cups.
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