As I get older, many seemingly insignificant memories seem to fade, but there is always that juicy handful that sticks. I know exactly when I started The Fault in Our Stars, how much it meant to me and my friends, how joining the fandom felt like home, and I know exactly how it felt when Augustus died.
This book was and still is a solid foundation in my life. It aided in friendships and has helped in the way I view love and loss from a young age. There could not have been a better time for this book to be published; twelve was the age I needed this book. I am excited to take you through this personal journey of self-reflection as I ponder over this forever-meaningful novel.
Comfort in Belonging to Something
As a twelve-year-old, all you want is to feel like you belong. You want to know that you have a group of friends that like the same things you do, around people where you can be yourself. I was very lucky to have that, so when this novel was released, it was all any of us could talk about.
I don’t remember what I was reading, but I told myself that I was going to wait to read TFIOS until I could fully dedicate my time to it without distractions. Whatever I was doing took much longer than I thought, and by the time I was ready to read the book, all my friends had read it and discussed its climactic ending. They did their best to shield me from the truth, but it snuck its way into my ears. But no matter! I still needed to read it for myself.
So one day at DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), my friends and I were sitting on the beanbags by the computers. At this point, there was a copy of the novel floating between my friends, so when I expressed that I was ready, someone reached into their cubby and handed me the well-loved copy. Being the overly emotional girl I was, I was one page in when I started crying. I already knew the ending! I couldn’t help myself.
After I went through the turmoil of reading this novel, I was able to join my friends in its devotion. Some of these girls are still in my life, and the root of our friendship comes from obsessing over this novel. I have boxes and boxes of notes, birthday cards, and scraps of paper that contain snippets of my middle school experience; all of them revolving around Hazel and Augustus.
My friends and I were also big fans of one direction, another fandom we all could relate to. But there is so much comfort in belonging to something bigger than yourself, and being a part of the TFIOS fandom altered my twelve-year-old self forever.
First Experience of Real Love
The love John Green writes about is profound. I don’t know if I knew what anything of it meant but what I felt was real. You can feel their energy and attraction boiling off of the pages. It is palpable and the most real thing I am feeling at that moment.
This was the first real love story I had ever read. I grew up reading Harry Potter and other fanciful books that aided my daydreaming. But this… this was the most not fantasy book I had ever read. It totally changed my brain chemistry and opened me to a whole new world.
Being able to watch how much they cared about each other and how they finally both found someone who understand what they were going through. Watching how even through the pain, Augustus insisted that Hazel goes to Amsterdam using his wish and how he put his pain aside to comfort Issac when he lost his eyes. When Hazel came to his rescue at the gas station because he didn’t know who else to call or when Augustus snuck into Hazel’s hospital room just to hold her hand.
The love they share has made my standards immensely high since I was twelve. How could I want anything other than this pure, real devotion in the midst of pain and uncertainty?
First Experience of Real Loss
When I tell you that when Augustus died, it felt like a person in my life had passed, I mean it wholeheartedly. I scared the living daylights out of my mother because as I reached his death scene, it was a culmination of things; their whole love story, which was at the forefront of my mind, and Hazel’s eulogy, which gets me every. damn. time. As I sit here thinking about how intense and aggravatingly painful yet beautiful her speech was to him, I could break down right now.
So when I read her eulogy for the first time and go to continue on to the next chapter, I am hit cruelly with the knowledge that he has passed. Bam. The first line of the chapter. No sugar coating it because that’s life, as the novel has taught its readers. I am overcome with a whirlwind of emotions, choking out sobs. I race to my mother’s room, crying the whole way, and I open her door and crumble to the floor.
I remember screaming that Augustus had died and she was genuinely concerned a friend of mine had passed and didn’t know how to handle the situation. Emotional and dramatic as I may be, I can’t think of the last time something has affected my whole body like that.
The story of my running and crying into my mother’s room over the death of a fictional character continues to be retold over the years. This goes back to what I said about the love in the novel; I don’t think I knew what it meant or why it hit me so hard, but I knew it was real and powerful. And as Augusts says, pain demands to be felt.
To put a cherry on top of it all, TFIOS still influences my life today! As I write this article now, I have already listened to two of the songs on the film adaptations soundtrack. It feels completely natural to me to fall back into love with this story as it is one that never gets old or overread. If you still have a copy lying around after ten years, it might be time for another heartwrenching reread.
Click here to read more about The Fault in Our Stars from us here at Bookstr!
FEATURED IMAGE VIA THE CINEMAHOLIC