The Fault in Our Stars was the number one movie at the box office the weekend of June 6-8, http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/. In honor of that, I’m reposting this.
There’s a little movie coming out next weekend. You may have caught one of the (ahem) few promos for it. It’s a small, (cough cough), low-budget (more throat-clearing) adaptation of John Green’s modest young adult love story, The Fault in Our Stars. So before the Hollywood has a chance to ruin this lovely story of two doomed teen-agers sharing one night of love on a final romantic trip to — ah, you thought I was going to say Verona, didn’t you? — Amsterdam, read the durn book people.
If you insist on cheating, here is a link to the movie trailer: http://youtu.be/_Li8uojsfGc.
The novel is beautiful, in the way only a book about teen-agers in first love (with a touch of osteosarcoma or thyroid cancer with lung mets) can be. And I’m not giving anything away here. Hazel Grace, the narrator, tells us on page one that “Cancer is a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.” Hazel Grace is a courageous, funny, warm, imminently empathetic narrator. She provides startlingly humorous insights into the world of “cancer perks” for “cancer kids,” the support group happening “literally inside the heart of Jesus,” and the philosophy of living metaphorically. She addresses her life with black humor that particularly appears when a friend, nurse and/or family member makes a reference such as “I could have died.”
Hazel Grace has a quest involving a book and an author and how can you not love a girl like that? Augustus Waters meets Hazel during support group and after reading her book, decides to become involved and help make her wish come true.
I’ve written before about the urgency of young love, first love. Without their youth, Romeo and Juliet would just seem foolish. But at sixteen, everything, especially love, is literally a matter of life and death. Pardon me for the use of literally there, Hazel Grace. But I meant it literally, unlike the number of instances in which the word is incorrectly used as Hazel and Gus enjoy pointing out to one another.
The only way to increase the urgency would be if one of those lovers were about to be married off to a loathsome spouse . . . or dying of a fatal and incurable disease. And for Hazel and Gus, they are young and in love. And John Green has just one-upped William Shakespeare.
And then we were kissing. My hand let go of the oxygen cart and I reached up for his neck, and he pulled me up by my was it onto my tiptoes. As his parted lips met mine, I started to feel breathless in a new and fascinating way. The space around us evaporated, and for a weird moment I really liked my body; this cancer-ruined thing I’d spent years dragging around suddenly seemed worth the struggle, worth the chest tubes and the PICC lines and the ceaseless bodily betrayal of the tumors.
I realized that my eyes were closed and opened them. Augustus was staring at me, his blue eyes closer to me than they’d ever been, and behind him, a crowd of people three deep had sort of circled around us. They were angry, I thought Horrified.
. . . And then they started clapping. All the people, all these adults, just started clapping, and one shouted “Bravo!” in a European accent. Augustus, smiling, bowed. Laughing, I curtsied ever so slightly, which was met with another round of applause.
Augustus and Hazel have a lovely vegetarian meal in Amsterdam. I am relaying it here. I don’t have any recipes as yet, but if I can locate any, I will share them.
White asparagus with lavender infusion
Dragon Carrot Risotto
Sweet Pea sorbet
Green Garlic Gnocchi with red mustard leaves
Crémeux with passion fruit
Gus and Hazel live in Indianapolis and travel together to Amsterdam. Given my love of John Mellencamp, I would definitely include his music, most definitely Jack and Diane. Starry, Starry Night by Don McLean. I Only Have Eyes for You, by Nat King Cole. Stardust (by Hobie Carmichael — also a Hoosier). The Avett Brothers’ music matches perfectly the mood of this book.
So read, enjoy and make sure you finish it sitting in a big, comfy chair with a box of tissues.