This melancholy young adult novel is written in the first person from the perspective of a 16 year old girl. It is so well done that you have to remind yourself that it is, in fact, fiction and not a memoir. Prepare for an emotional roller coaster, or perhaps more of an emotional dive. There are brief moments of joy that allow you to come up for air. It reminds the reader, through these young characters, that we are mortal and should live the best life we can, while we can. The theme of ‘don’t let the disease kill you before it kills you’ resonates.
The author cleverly puts the reader in the shoes (and lungs) of 16 year old Hazel Grace Lancaster. She meets Augustus Waters, 17, at a Cancer Support Group. They are immediately drawn to each other and find they have more in common than their disease. They share a similar rebellious philosophy and cynical humor about life and death.
Much of their relationship revolves around Hazel’s obsession with her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, which leads them on a journey to learn more about the mysterious author Peter Van Houten.
I can’t say I enjoyed it, because I don’t enjoy feeling sad, but it did make me feel. I did become invested in the story and the characters.