August 13, 2013
Sixteen year old Hazel has experienced it all. The heartache, the panic, the dreadful anticipation of her oncoming death. All side effects of cancer, which, to Hazel, is just a side effect of dying.
Ridden with thyroid cancer and “lungs that suck at being lungs”, Hazel fills her days going to college classes and pondering the mysterious conclusion of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter van Houten. Though Hazel was once healthy and spent her time with friends at school, her looming death is a depressing notion. So, Hazel, at her mom’s insistence, joins a Cancer Kid Support Group, an even more depressing gathering of kids with cancer. Sharing troubles, discussing death, and considering their futures, until the cast changes, one kid “leaves” forever, and another joins the melancholy circle.
For Hazel, the future seems bleak. Until one day, when a wonderful boy named Augustus Waters limps his way into Hazel’s life. Augustus had one of his legs amputated due to cancer, but is in remission, and as he says, he is on a roller coaster that only goes up. Hazel and Augustus have much in common, including cancer, and something just… clicks. They have deep talks and share their love for An Imperial Affliction. Hazel is in love, but the battle with cancer persists.
Desperate to know the ending of their favorite book, Augustus and Hazel make plans to visit Holland, where the author lives, using Augustus’s “wish”. But when Augustus, Hazel, and her mother get there, things are far from expected. Yes, Hazel and August shared a romantic dinner at the Oranjee, a delightful restaurant by a canal. But Hazel is not prepared for what comes next. What van Houten will reveal, and what he won’t. And nothing can prepare Hazel for heartbreaking news that will .
This book left me with tears on my face, and pain in my heart. The devastating sadness and and heartbreak of cancer guided the book. But even though the book was sad, it was truly inspiring. Watching the bond between Augustus and Hazel blossom was so touching. I now realize what kind of havoc cancer can wreak on a family, thanks to the beautiful work of John Green.