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Two Favorites

Posted 6/14/2014

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  What a delight to see this essay by Susan Gubar about The Fault in Our Stars, the wonderful novel by John Green. I wrote about this book several weeks ago, and have subsequently learned that it has been released as a movie. I doubt that I want to see the movie; I wept enough reading the book. But, as I wrote earlier, in spite of myself and my usually steadfast refusal to read "cancer novels", I loved this one.

  Now Susan Gubar, who writes the ongoing series about living with ovarian cancer for the The New York Times, has written about the book. She is an English professor, so also brings that perspective to her reading; she loved it, too.

Here is her essay and, please, think about reading the book.

Living With Cancer: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

“Cancer books suck,” says 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster. But she has a favorite and so do I. Mine is the novel John Green wrote about her.

With an allergy to cheesy sentiments resembling Holden Caulfield’s, Hazel is the derisive yet tender narrator of Mr. Green’s best-selling book and now movie, “The Fault in Our Stars.”

Hazel undergoes drug therapy to extend her life, not to cure the thyroid cancer that has metastasized in her lungs. Despite a terminal prognosis, she tries to focus on living with disease instead of dying from it. In the midst of scares and incapacity, Hazel manages to relish jokes, books, her parents and eventually her love affair with 17-year-old Augustus Waters, who “had a touch of osteosarcoma a year and a half ago,” requiring the partial amputation of one of his legs.

Through Hazel’s wry perspective, the author circumvents what his heroine calls “the (expletive) conventions of the cancer kid genre.” No need for a spoiler alert here. You may be or become as enthralled as I am by the sometimes funny, sometimes sad plot twists of this narrative, but what stays with me is Mr. Green’s analysis of the experiences of teenagers with disease.

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