Thursday, September 13, 2012

BBAW - Pimp a Book: The Fault in our Stars

When we read that for the Thursday of BBAW 2012 the theme was "Pimp a Book", we knew that our choice needed to be a book we both loved thus we chose The Fault in our Stars by John Green. Not only do we love this book, but we also felt that TFioS shows a great sense of blogger community because it was the inspiration for John Green Week hosted by YA Bibliophile.
During John Green week, here at TMT we celebrated John in many ways including sharing our favorite John Green quotes and Vlogbrothers videos, summarizing John Green's presentation at NCTE 2011, reviewing John Green's short stories  Let it Snow, "Freak the Geek", and "The Great American Morp" as well as his novels Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Paper Towns and finally ending with a review of NCTE's sneak preview chapters of The Fault in our Stars. Because John Green Week was leading up to the publication of The Fault in Our Stars we never reviewed it! But now we will!

Title: The Fault in Our Stars 
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books 
Publication Date: January 2012 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 
     Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 
     Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.  
What Kellee Thinks: I'll be honest. I have not written a review of this book. Every time I think of writing one, I don't know if I am going to be able to do it justice. It is one of those books that you read and as you read, there are so many good things and so much you love and you know that it is something so special. Even now as I sit here, I don't know what to say. I know that I wish that it was more appropriate for middle schoolers so I could share it with more students, I know that it is a book that everyone should read, and I know that it is a book that I am glad we are sharing here on TMT.
          The Fault in our Stars is not only an emotional and funny book, it is beautifully written. As I read, I knew I wanted to mark quotes for a review, but as I read, it was hard to find a page to not mark. (Jen here, chiming in, I couldn't even begin to share my favorite quotes for the same reason - I had so many lines highlighted it's not even funny.)
John Green has a way with words. If you have read anything by him, you know what I am talking about. I think what makes this book even more powerful is that it is a combination of John Green's voice and a deep, amazing story. Put the two together and you get a masterpiece.
What Jen Thinks: I completely echo everything Kellee has to say about The Faul in Our Stars. The entire book exudes John Green-ness. If you have watched any of the Vlogbrothers videos or seen any interviews with John Green, it is just so apparent that this book is all him. Kellee really got it right when she said that this is a deep and amazing story. John Green's books deal with teen issues but this book is completely on a different level even for him. I seriously just wish I could sit and swoon and gush and pour my heart out to you about how awesome this book is. It has to be read, though. It's borderline impossible to express accurately how imperative it is for you to read this book if you haven't.
     Now let me take a deep breath and try to explain a little bit of why this book is so great. First of all, as I said, it is an amazing example of voice. John Green's vocabulary and how he plays with words and creates words is so unique to him and perfect as a mentor text. For a second, it seems as though he's talking nonsense but then it all makes sense and instead turns out completely brilliant. His characters have incredible word sense and can spit out lines with amazing wit. I can see how someone might find them unbelievable but having worked with middle and high schoolers, I know there are intelligent kids out there who are as articulate and charming as Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. (They remind me a tiny bit of characters from Dawson's Creek or Gilmore Girls...just a teensy tiny bit - and really only because of their )
     Hazel and Augustus spend much of the book discussing a book they love, An Imperial Affliction. Their connectedness and torment over not knowing how the story ends is such an interesting part of the book. It's it's own storyline in a way. (Seriously, this book is so deep. It's got layers, man!) I love to see how invested they become in the book, but also about how it ends up being more than simply wanting to know how the story ends. I can see how the book is a symbol for their own lives and life in general - the stories our lives become. We all have a story to tell and hopefully there is someone to listen and learn from that story. This idea seems to emerge in other parts of the book as well.
     I am barely even starting to scratch the surface of aweseome-ness when it comes to this book and all the millions of literary discussions you could have. Here's just one more that I found remarkable both times I read it. The title is actually from a quote from Shakespeare about the fault in the characters' destinies. It's like how Romeo and Juliet are star-crossed lovers. They are insanely in love with each other but it's just not in the cards for things to work out for them. I think a discussion of The Fault in Our Stars and Romeo and Juliet in a high school class would just about make my brain explode. It would rock.
     My final thoughts, I learned my current most favoritest word in this book: hamartia. If that doesn't make an English teacher do a double take, I don't know what will. If you haven't read the book or don't know the word hamartia, look it up...and then get a copy of The Fault in Our Stars. What more can we say?
Read Together: Grades 8 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, any John Green book 
Snatch of Text:  "It wasn't even that the book was so good or anything; it was just that the author, Peter Van Houten, seemed to understand me in weird and impossible ways. An Imperial Affliction was my book, in the way my body was my body and my thoughts were my thoughts." (p. 36)

"Hi," I said. "How are you?" 
    "Grand," he said. "I have been wanting to call you on a nearly minutely basis, but I have been waiting until I could form a coherent thought in re An Imperial Affliction." (He said "in re." He really did. That boy.)
     "And?" I said. 
     "I think it's, like. Reading it. I just kept feeling like, like." 
     "Like?" I said teasing him.
     "Like it was a gift?" he said askingly. "Like you'd given me something important."
     "Oh," I said quietly.
     "That's cheesy," he said. "I'm sorry."
     "No," I said. "No. Don't apologize." 
     "But it doesn't end."
     "Yeah," I said. 
     "Torture. I totally get it, like, I get that she died or whatever."
     "Right, I assume so." I said. 
     "And okay, fair enough, but there is this unwritten contract between author and reader and I think not ending your book kind of violates that contract."
     "I don't know," I said, feeling defensive of Peter Van Houten. "That's part of what I like about the book in some ways. It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in a middle of a sentence. But I do - God, I do really want to know what happens to everyone else. That's what I asked him in my letters. But he, yeah, he never answers." (p. 66-67)
Mentor Text for: Voice, Characterization, Metaphor, Symbolism, Dialogue, Emotional Impact, Humor, Making Connections - Text to Text, Expository, Personal Narrative, Word Choice, Word Play, Theme
Writing Prompts: Hazel has a book that is her favorite and means so much to her; what book do you love that you could not live without? Choose your favorite line or quote from the book and discuss why  you connected with it so much. Write about someone who made an impression on you but who you have lost touch with.
Topics Covered: Cancer, Depression, Friendship, Reading, Death, Love, Family, Destiny, Determination, Trust, Integration - History/Genocide/WWII, 
Jen and Kellee *heart* It:

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