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review 2014-10-04 16:04
I laughed, I cried. Mostly I cried. Like, a lot.
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is an improbable story, but it doesn't feel like one when you're reading it. It feels exactly right.

 

Maybe it resonates so strongly because of my life as a sick child and then a sick adult who lost most of her sick friends in childhood. Our lives were more predictable because we didn't have cancer, which is unpredictable pretty much all the time, but we were still surprised sometimes. We loved each other and sometimes we fell in love and once in a while the person who died was the one who wasn't supposed to.

 

What I'm getting at is that it's really weird being a kid and having a mental list of which friends are supposed to die first. Green captures that feeling, all of those feelings, better than anyone I've read who wasn't somehow one of us. I was sure that he had lost a child or a sibling to cancer, right up the point in the acknowledgements where he says he didn't. It's that good.

 

So it's also that bad. I felt Hazel's pain and joy and fear so completely it was frightening, even as I was jealous of her strength. Hazel is a beautiful creature, as is Augustus, and their love is a privilege to witness. 

 

Bonus points to Green for making up a book for them to bond over rather than using an existing one and turning it into a half-assed lit class. That was a real stroke of genius and made their world all the more real for being wholly fictional.

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review 2000-01-01 00:00
Words I Wish I Wrote: A Collection of Writing That Inspired My Ideas
Words I Wish I Wrote: A Collection of Writing That Inspired My Ideas - Robert Fulghum I sit back in my chair, tossing the book a good five feet onto the coffee table with that trademark thump that only hardcover book can make. It skids to a stop, hanging precariously over the edge.

"This should have been called Words I Wish I Wrote So Much That I Put Them Into a Book Under My Own Damn Name Anyway," I mutter.

"Soooo you liked it?" my wife asks wryly.

"Well, it's nothing new or more enlightening than what you'd find on a million quote sites around the Internet or even on GoodReads," I blurt, close to whining. "But hey, I guess I have to cut the guy a little slack, I suppose. The book came out in 1999, prior to the Internet really taking off. How was Flughum--"

"Fulghum," my wife gently corrects me as she looks over curiously at the book's jacket design.

"FULGHUM, sorry. How was he to know how commonplace this practice would become for thousands of bored meatheads around the world brightening the whole of cyberspace one pithy quote at a time."

"Boy, you're in a mood! Anyways, it couldn't have all been bad. You even quoted a few of them to me. Like that Bowles one, was it? That one about infinite tomorrows or something...?"

I pick the book up again and thumb to the passage in question. "… we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well," I read. "Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."

I close the book and place it back on the table, this time more quietly.

"Okay...I'll admit that a couple of them struck a chord with me but they aren't something you can't get today for free elsewhere."

The air hangs with a kind of damp silence. Off in the distance a dog barks. I reach for another book.
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