Monday, January 13, 2014

Reader Response: The Fault in Our Stars Pt. 5

This is a continuation of a reader response exercise for John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, done as an assignment for my Teen Materials class in Library Science grad school.

** spoilers everywhere **

Chapter Sixteen


Chapter Seventeen

Like Augustus, I was annoyed when Hazel started using "Gus." Yes, I do think it's from a lessening of interest in him.

Augustus wants so badly to be a famous person or a life-saving rescuer to feel his life has had meaning. Hazel feels insulted that the life he's had, including the part with her, is not enough for him. Legitimate complaint. I hope she manages to convince him that the kindness he showed is something worth valuing as a life well accomplished. I am still wondering why neither of them have considered trying to have a child. I mean, what was with using a condom back in Amsterdam? That's a route many, many people take to feel their lives have had significant meaning. I wonder if John Green censored himself on this point, for the audience.

Chapter Eighteen

Augustus' medical emergency is really worrying me because of the vulnerability of the situation. Hazel made a smart series of choices.

I recognize the red wheelbarrow poem from an audio course on modernism. The message I took from it then (and take now) is that simple things are of great importance, if we let them be important.

Yes, the chapters have been short.

Chapter Nineteen

The narrative is sliding inevitably and predictably along. Expecting a poignant scene of Augustus and Hazel going outside one last time to watch the sky and chat before he dies.

Chapter Twenty

Bam. Hazel's pre-eulogy made me my eyes water. I thought too much about the infinities thing last time.

Chapter Twenty-One

"The only person I really wanted to talk to about Augustus Waters's death was Augustus Waters." She lost her talking-partner-who-most-mattered.

I also can't stand condolences which are well-meaning but death-denying, e.g. living on in memory, or in Heaven, etc. I'm glad Hazel herself didn't do that. She didn't take away from the importance of his actual life or the complete loss of a person at death. The universe is in the business of making and unmaking consciousness, and what's important is what happens in-between.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Woah, I was not expecting the funeral guest.

Yes, Hazel, funerals are for the living and you have to accommodate them. She shows that she is an adult in another way, in the car right after that.

Chapter Twenty-Three

I do find it satisfying when people aren't simple. Yes, Van Houten was trying. Trying is the best start. Then I realized that Hazel went to him for answers and might have saved him instead, or not.

Chapter Twenty-Four

More complexity from Hazel's parents, but also misunderstanding. The thing that would have comforted Hazel most about her mother was kept back to avoid causing her worry.

Chapter Twenty-Five (final)

And the misty eyes on the last pages again. It's not about the characters in this novel. It's because I identify strongly with Hazel's views about the importance and unimportance of life. Because this book constantly called people in my life to mind and made me wish I could better explain what they mean to me. I might actually do something about that, which is the best a book can accomplish.

As for the intended audience, yes of course this is a wildly popular title. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, this is an especially well-crafted gathering of philosophy for readers who might not have encountered it before. I appreciate having something to recommend when it seems appropriate. Since this is also my first John Green book, I can also feel comfortable recommending his other books based on what I know of his style and the synopsis of those other books. I had been considering trying him out, so this was a great excuse to do so.

Writing these notes as I go along has been an interesting experience. At least one person has been reading these notes with interest. That helped.

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