The Fault in our Stars is the first book I have read by John Green. It is a book that gets in the skin of teenage cancer survivors who under varying degrees of duress attend a support group “at the heart of Jesus”. They are a community set apart by their cancer. The book is about Hazel and her friends Augustus and Isaac. Their relationships are intense, beautifully romantic and tragically short-lived. Their conversation is full of witty repartee and honesty. Each of them is a “grenade”. They are well supported by their parents whose own pre-mortem and post-mortem plights are understood through Hazel’s sensitive understanding and fear of them. The book is a delight.
Spoiler alert: Gus’s funeral doesn’t go as well as the pre-funeral in which Isaac and Hazel had been able to speak their hearts out in front of Gus. The funeral is constrained by inter generational expectations and the priest is seen to totally miss the mark with his pious platitudes. What could he have done differently? (That is the same question as what could I have done differently so many times in similar situations?) He took the easy road to consolation, which of course is a road that goes nowhere. He could have taken his directions from Hazel and Isaac. He could have listened to them. He could have read the book that had inspired first Hazel and then Gus, and he could have had his eyes opened by their discovery that some infinities are bigger than other infinities.
Hazel, in her pre-funeral eulogy didn’t know what to say. “I can’t talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: there are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and of, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
The book has been turned into a film which is due to be released in June. I can’t believe that the film is going to be able to match the book, but here’s a trailer anyway.