Cover Love: It's fine. Not my favorite, but it is gender neutral so boys wouldn't probably mind being seen with this one.
Why I Wanted to Read This:
I have already written about my feelings about cancer books, so I wasn't going to read this. But then two things happened. First of all, I went to Divergent and developed a little crush on Ansel Elgort, who plays Augustus Waters in the movie version of this book. Secondly, I convinced a girl who had read the book to tell me how it ends. Those two things convinced me I could read this book. In case you don't already know what this one is about, here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.Romance?: Yes, pretty much what this book is about.
This is the first John Green book I have ever read. I know, I know, how could that happen being that I am a librarian for teens? But, I have always thought his books were a little old for a middle school library. I do have this one in my library, though, mostly because I knew it was being made into a movie. And its been very popular, constantly checked out. Kids are loving this book!
My partner librarian and I were discussing the appropriateness of this book in a middle school library. I know many people will be upset by the language and the sex stuff, but really, its not gratuitous and it is well within context. It's not put in there just to be there. And truly, if you had a child dying of cancer, wouldn't you want them to experience that? And wouldn't you be a little ok if they swore every now and again?
I loved the characters--even the minor ones are written so well. There were a few scenes that gut punched me, like when Hazel says the worst thing than dying of cancer is having a child who dies of cancer. But, it doesn't focus on the parents and I do think that both sets of parents we get to know are more typical of parents whose kids are very sick. They have accepted what is happening the best they can, they fight for their kids health and they try to make their child's life be as happy as they can for what time they have left.
Augustus and Hazel were wonderful, and there is nothing better than this quote from Hazel, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once." Swoon!
You will cry and you will feel very sad. Like I said before I had a girl tell me who dies in the end because I didn't want to be blindsided, I wanted to be prepared for the eventuality. It really helped. Another thing I was able to do was really focus on Hazel and Augustus. I didn't look at the book from a parent's point of view, I looked at is as a young girl falling in love. So, the crying was at a minimum. I do expect I will bawl at the movie though!
To Sum Up: Reading a book about teenagers with cancer is no small thing. You will cry and you will fall a bit in love. Enjoy the ride as much as you can!