Not in Our Stars, but in Ourselves

I’ve always been one who thinks the book is better than the movie. The only exception to this rule is William Golding’s The Princess Bride, in which the movie adaptation is just as good. And because I’ve always been slightly masochistic, when I saw this BuzzFeed article, and realized the movie was already out, I figured I might as well read the book.

Image courtesy of amazon.com

The Fault in Our Stars, has been on my to-read list for a while, but I just never got around to it. I probably categorized it with the “write about Spain,” “respond to blog posts,” “write Yelp reviews,” and “do actual work at work.” But because recently I’ve been heading into the city a bit, I’ve had several two-hour train rides in the last month, and instead of killing my phone battery, I decided to be productive, and I loaded a bunch of new books on my Kindle. One particular past weekend, I arrived at the train station 1:15 before my train was scheduled to leave. I pulled out the trusty Kindle and, coffee in hand, began reading.

It’s a slow start, but by the third chapter, I was hooked. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a book from the perspective of a 16-year-old female cancer patient. The character development in the book is fantastic – I actually believed Hazel existed for a minute – and when Augustus is introduced, I couldn’t help but smile, and literally LOL. Augustus Waters is the exact embodiment of someone I know – you know, without the whole 17-year-old, missing-leg thing.

The novel takes you through the young love between Hazel and Augustus, and even though they’re 13 (ouch) years younger than I am, I remembered exactly what it felt like to be 16 and in love. As I kept reading, and Augustus became more and more of this person I know, I felt connected to these characters. The friends, the experiences, the wishes, the joys, and the sorrows. While I can’t personally relate to the things they go through, I can feel for them. I understand the heart-wrenching feelings of someone you love being ripped away from you, and I understand wanting to enjoy the infinite number of moments between your start and finish, even though the actual start and finish limit them.

By the time the train hit Stamford, which is about halfway between my origin and my destination, I had already had to stop reading, wipe my eyes, reapply my mascara, and hope that no one had seen me blubbering (more than once). I had images for these people in my head of who they were, what they look like, how it was in Amsterdam….by the time I was at Harlem 125th street, I had finished the book and staring out the window trying to compose myself. I am romantic and sentimental, but there has not been a book that has made me cry as much in a very long time.

When I closed the Kindle, dried my tears, and got off the train, I had resolved to heed Hazel’s last words to Augustus, and be thankful for the little infinities that we are given.

“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 God, 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.”

 

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