Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars

Bibliographic Information: Green. J. (2012). The fault in our stars. New York: Dutton Books. ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2 (hardcover: alk. paper)

Plot Summary: The Fault In Our Stars is narrated by 17 year old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who at the age of 13 was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, changing her life forever. Hazel, having been diagnosed as nothing but "terminal," has her life prolonged by the sudden success of a "miracle drug," Phalanzifor; which does not improve her health but grants her a little bit more time. Having been pulled out of school years before, Hazel falls out of the loop of teen life and finds that she prefers the company of books over to that of her peers. Fearing her mental health and withdrawal from society, Hazel's mother insists that she joins the local cancer support group. Hazel's life is soon changed when at the support group she meets Isaac's (a regular attendant) friend, Augustus Waters. Soon after Augustus and Hazel begin to spend as much time together as possible, finding in each other a kindred spirit. Having had cancer himself, Augustus shares similar experiences to that of Hazel. Unlike Hazel, Augustus is currently healthy and in remission. This difference in health both brings them closer and keeps them apart as their love becomes even more clear. While sharing secrets, Hazel introduces Augustus to her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. Their mutual love for the novel, coupled by Augustus' unused "wish," sets them off on a grand adventure to Amsterdam in which they learn unexpected truths about their favorite author and Augustus' health status. Everything dramatically changes for these heroic characters when they return home. 

Critical Evaluation: Green's book is wrought with literary references (both modern and Shakespearean) which will either enrich or turn off those reading the book. On the one hand, Green's references to William Carlos Williams, T. S. Elliot, Robert Frost, and Shakespeare, among many, offer a new layer of significance and hints to the mental state of the characters. On the other hand, the constant allusions to great authors may feel forced and rushed; especially since Green is not shy about the amount of quotes that are added throughout the text. Either way, the quotes Green chooses to use have special significance throughout the story and embody greater themes of loss, strife, love, and a palpable sense of grief.

One such particular quote that embodies very important themes of loss and death throughout the book is the reference to Robert Frost's poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay on page 278. Green carefully picks the quote, "So dawn goes down to day,/ Nothing gold can stay" to connote the fragility of human life and the futility of hoping that it will never end as exemplified through the lives of Hazel and Augustus. Frost’s couplet speaks volumes on the uncertain state of human existence and the inevitability of death. “Dawn” going down to “day” symbolizes the passing of time and the certainty that the day (or life) will end no matter what else is going on. This quote, as used in the book, embodies the theme of death as an ever-lingering truth in the life of both Hazel and Augustus; whose lives are coming to a swift end whether or not they are ready. Green further uses the image of “gold” in “Nothing gold can stay” to remark upon the grievous truth that all things come to end (no matter how wonderful) and are not permanent fixtures of life. By adding this passage, Green uses “gold” to connote the precious, valuable, and beautiful quality of life that is ephemeral and passing as shown through Hazel and Augustus’ experiences. Although Green only briefly alludes to this important segment of Frost’s poem, the sentiment of these lines echo throughout the entire book as the relationship between Hazel and Augustus continues to develop. 

Reader’s Annotation: Some people dream of
making a difference through the life they lead, while others dream of just having a life to live. Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster meet by chance one day at a cancer support group and change the way each views the life they live.

Information About the Author: John Green grew up in Orlando, Florida near Disney World (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012). He studied English and Religion in a university in Ohio (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012). Soon after, Green spent time as a chaplain of a children's hospital working towards becoming a pastor (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012). While working there, Green published Looking for Alaska in 2006 (Sarazyn, 2012). Looking for Alaska landed Green on the New York Times Best Seller list, as well as a Michael L. Printz Award in the US and the Silver Inky Award in Australia; this lit up his career as an author (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012). Green is also known for: An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, coauthoring, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and The Fault In Our Stars (Green, 2012).

Green is also known for starting a "nerdfighters" movement through his YouTube Vlogbrothers experiment that he began with his younger brother, Hank (Green, 2012). The point of the Vlogbrothers experience was to spend an entire year without texting his brother and instead to talk over vlogs on YouTube (Green, 2012). These videos garnered recognition from many news sources, as well as millions of YouTube followers; further establishing Green as a favorite YA author.  

 John Green answers fan questions on The Fault in Our Stars,  characters,
and all kinds of random tidbits.


Subgenre: Death and Deadly Disease, Physical Challenges

Curriculum Ties
: This a good book to use to discuss ideas on sickness, health, and death. 

Booktalking Ideas:  

1). Have you, or someone you love, ever been impacted by the loss of someone?
2). What does it mean to be alive but not be able to enjoy life?
3). Discuss these ideas in terms of Hazel Grace Lancaster's story and how she deals with her situation in life.

Reading Level/Interest Age: Lexile Reading Level: 850/ YA (Follett's Titlewave, 2012)

Challenge Issues: Intense discussion of cancer and death. I would use the following items to defend this book if it was ever challenged:

1). Refer to Library Bill of Rights, see items: I, II, and III (
2). Refer to San Diego Public Library collection policy - ( 
Original site: The American Library Association (ALA) Freedom to Read/View Statement (
3). Refer to California School Library Association (CSLA), Model School Library Standards - September 2010 ( PDF: (
4). Refer t0 American Association for School, Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (
5). Contact Office of Intellectual Freedom for any further support, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223 or
6). Refer to legitimate book reviews, such as: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book and others; found on either Academic Search Premier, Follett's TITLEWAVE, or

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?: I was assigned this book and found it to be complex and heart wrenching. I decided to add it to my collection because I was touched by Green's earnest discussion of tough life subjects, such as: cancer, death, first loves, and social integration. These topics are very important and connect to many of the difficult issues that teens deal with throughout their teen years. Adults can also relate to many of the before mentioned themes. 

Reference Page:

Bloomsbury Publishing. (2012). John Green: Biography. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Follett's Titlewave.  (2012).  The fault in our stars. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from Follett's Tittlewave iPhone app.

Green, J. (2012). John Green's biography. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Holley, P. S. (2012). Booklist review: The fault in our stars. Booklist Online. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Sarazyn, N. (2012). Biography of award winning author John Green. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

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