The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Book Information: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green © 2012, Dutton, New York, NY

ISBN 978-0-525-47881-2

Plot Summary: Hazel Graces has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of terminal cancer, and does not have much hope until she attends a support group and meets Augustus.  In fact, she spends much of her spare time reading a cancer novel and thinking about death.  Augustus is a cancer patient in remission and despite her fear of hurting more people; she succumbs to his quirky sense of humor and irreverent logic.  Gus uses his “wish” on a trip to Amsterdam to meet the author of Hazel’s favorite book.  There, they are lifted up and tossed down, and in a sudden twist of fate Hazel learns the value of love, and the beauty in life.

Reader’s Annotation: Augustus and Hazel Grace are falling in love and running out of time.  In a world of infinite possibilities, they are limited in their own personal choices until they create their own infinity.

Critical Evaluation:  John Green writes a novel steeped in both the beauty and the cruelty of life.  He uses the graphic elements of cancer treatments and the terminal nature of Hazel’s life and juxtaposes these with tender moments, like a first kiss.  That is an overlying theme of the novel, that amid the chaos and craziness of life, it is the connections that are made between people – lovers, families, and friends – that make sense of out of nonsense.  It is our ability to connect with one another that makes the oblivion easier to bear.  Because as Green points out in this book, it is nobody’s fault when kids develop cancer and die.

Information About the Author:  John Green is the author of more than 5 novels for young adults and the recipient of the Printz Award in 2006.  He worked as a chaplain in a Children’s Hospital before writing full-time.  He attended Kenyon College where he earned degrees in English and Religious Studies and now lives with his wife in Indianapolis.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Death

Curriculum Ties: n/a

Reading Level/Interest Age: 15+

Potential Challenge Issues: Language, Sexuality

Defense Options:

  • Reviews
  • Awards and Prizes
  • San Diego County Library Selection Policy and Procedures for Young Adult Literature
  • ALA Bill of Rights on Intellectual Freedom
    • Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  • Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

BookTalking Ideas:

  • At the beginning of the novel, it is very important to Hazel to find out what happens to the characters after the end An Imperial Affliction, but by the end of the novel she doesn’t care, why?
  • One theme in the novel is that “some infinities are bigger than other infinities,” do you think that Hazel and Augustus experienced their own infinity?

Why Included? 

The Fault in Our Stars was quite simply the best novel I read this year, teen or adult.  I could not comprise this list and leave this book out.

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