cover art
Bibliographic Information
Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2
Publisher: Dutton Books
Copyright: 2012

Book Details
Jacket Design: Irene Vandervoorts
Jacket Art & Illustrator:
Formats: Hardbound, paperback
Page Count: 318
Awards: #1 New York Times Best Seller; Time #1 Book of the Year; USA Today Top 10; Kirkus Reviews Top 100 and Starred Review

Plot Summary

A teen-age girl who has cancer must endure treatment, cope with overly-solicitous healthy people, and maintain her friendship with a teen-age boy also being treated for cancer. She attends a support group, and in one of the meetings she catches the eye of Augustus Waters. Hazel reveals she has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. Augustus had osteosarcoma, but he is now cancer-free after having his leg amputated. They agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Hazel recommends “An Imperial Affliction”.

Hazel explains the magnificence of “An Imperial Affliction”. It is about a girl named Anna who has cancer, and it’s the only account she’s read of living with cancer that matches her experience. She describes how the novel ends mid-sentence, denying the reader knowledge about the fate of the characters. She wonders about the mysterious author, Peter Van Houten, who fled to Amsterdam and hasn’t been heard from since.

A week later, Augustus reveals he found Van Houten’s assistant, Lidewij, and through her he’s managed to email the reclusive author. He shares Van Houten’s reply with Hazel, and she devises a list of questions for Van Houten. Hazel is most concerned with the fate of Anna’s mother. Van Houten replies, saying he can answer Hazel’s questions only in person, and invites her to stop by if she is ever in Amsterdam.

Later, Augustus reveals that a charitable foundation has agreed to send the two of them to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten. She is thrilled, but when he touches her face she feels hesitant, and she realizes that she likes him a lot.

When Hazel and Augustus meet Van Houten they find that he is a mean-spirited drunk who claims he cannot answer any of Hazel’s questions. The two leave Van Houten’s, disappointed, and, accompanied by Lidewij, they tour Anne Frank’s house. At the end of the tour, Augustus and Hazel share a romantic kiss, to the applause of spectators.

The following day, Augustus confesses that he had a body scan which revealed his cancer has returned and spread everywhere. As he worsens he becomes vulnerable and scared, but is still a beautiful boy in Hazel’s mind. Augustus’s condition deteriorates quickly. In his final days Augustus arranges a ‘prefuneral’ for himself, and Isaac and Hazel give eulogies. She says how much she loves Augustus, and that she would not trade their short time together for anything in the world. Augustus dies eight days later. Hazel is astonished to find Van Houten at the second funeral.

Later, Hazel discovers that Augustus was writing something for her. Hazel scrambles to locate the pages, and she encounters Van Houten once more. He reveals that Anna was the name of his daughter. She died of cancer when she was eight, and “An Imperial Affliction” was his literary attempt at reconciling with her death. Hazel then learns that Augustus sent the pages to Van Houten because he wanted Van Houten to use the pages to compose a eulogy about Hazel. Lidewij forced Van Houten to send them straight off to Hazel.

The story concludes with Augustus’s words. “Getting hurt in this world is inevitable, but we get to choose who we allow to hurt us; I am happy with my choice; and I hope you like her choice too.”

Critical Evaluation

The story is incredibly moving and brilliantly written, and will appeal to adults as well as teens. The author makes Hazel such a completely real and three-dimensional character that it is difficult not to be overcome by emotion when reading.

Critics have universally praised the book:

  • The New York Times calls it a blend of melancholy, sweet, philosophical and funny.
  • NPR’s Rachel Syme noted that Green’s voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization.
  • Time called “The Fault in Our Stars” damn near genius.

…and many, many more.

Reader’s Annotation

Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter set from her initial diagnosis. But when a gorgeous guy named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Information about the Author

John Green was born in Indianapolis but immediately moved to Orlando, Florida. After graduating from college, Green spent five months working as a student chaplain in a children’s hospital while enrolled at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He intended to become an Episcopal priest, but his experiences of working in a hospital with children suffering from life-threatening illnesses inspired him to become an author, and was the inspiration for “The Fault in Our Stars”.

Green lived for several years in Chicago, where he worked for the book review journal Booklist as a publishing assistant and production editor while writing hist first novel.

He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska.In 2014 Green was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Genre
Fiction: Literary Romance

Curriculum Ties
Empathy
Role of Characters in a Book Plot

Booktalking ideas

Dealing with life-threatening illness
Dealing with others who have life-threatening illness

Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: High
Reading Level: Grade 7 and up

Challenge Issues

Teen sex – they make love, once.

 

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