I didn’t want to read this. I knew I didn’t want to read this. I knew I shouldn’t’ve read this. But I read it. And I loved it. And I kinda hated it, too. Because I hate reading sad books.
I don’t have complaints, besides the giant mound of disgusting wet and soggy tissues I’m forced to share space with right now. But not having complaints is a big thing. I always have complaints! If I were to search for one, really hard, I might say I don’t know that a teenager would know all those crazy words but I really did love the style of this book. And it’s not about kids with cancer being brave little soldiers. Hazel has a strong sense of gallows humor and she’s so funny. Well, it’s funnier in the beginning and gets kinda serious about halfway through.
I will also say that I was spoiled on this – which is one of the reasons I didn’t want to read it. I hate sob story books. I don’t read them. But it’s The Fault In Our Stars. TFIOS. So quotable.
Okay. Okay. All the kids love it. And I loved Paper Towns so much. And I loved this too. If only it was so goddamned sad. I mean it’s not like sad for the last 1/4, it’s sad for the last half of the book. I just felt like my chest was being mined for feels. I just wanted it to stop.
Before now, my favorite book couple was Eleanor and Park. I hate to say they’ve been replaced. I would just say they must move over on the favorite book couple shelf and allow Hazel and Gus to take a seat. I like charming boys, ok? Don’t judge me. He was funny and cute and vulnerable and open with her and I like that. I’m not really a moody alpha male kinda girl. So often, the boys are the pursuers, but they aren’t the one who lays bare their soul. That old heteronormative thing where the he-man runs after the girl and hauls her back by the hair. Hazel told him that she didn’t want to be a hand grenade, she didn’t want to die on him, but he told her he cared about her anyway. I really loved the romance and I can’t say more, though I would like to, because there were some really great things about their relationship… but I don’t want to give away too much.
I think everyone knows the main premise: cancer kids meet in group, they go to Amsterdam to meet an author to find out what happened to the characters in the book he wrote, beyond what was in the book, fall in love, okay, okay. There was so much more to the story. I loved that the parents were such a big part of it. So often in YA the first thing you do is make the parents non-people or get them out of the way. It’s like if you don’t want parents in your story maybe you shouldn’t write one about kids. There is another kid in their support group named Isaac who has eye cancer and he’s both hysterical and tragic in turn. I really thought Isaac rounded out the group and showed another side of dealing with cancer. There’s also a bit about how people desert friends when they are sick and then after the person dies, the Facebook and social media sites blow up with all these platitudes. It’s like where were those people before the person died?
i hate the term “Cancer book.” There are a lot of contemporary young adult books about cancer, because it’s a thing that happens. I have never read one that I felt glorified or romanticized cancer. I’ve read plenty of adult books that have done that. So. I hate it when people talk about “cancer books” like they’re all the same, or like it’s even a genre. It’s dumb, herd-like thinking.
And I just had to go back and find Isaac’s name because I never remember anyone’s names and pretty much got the waterworks going again. I need to read another book, stat.
Happy reading, everybody.