Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Penguin Group. 2012

This may become the John Green book but I recommend first.  The main character, Hazel Grace, has an ultimately fatal cancer (her diagnosis is "terminal"). At the insistence of her mother, she attends a teen cancer support group where she meets the other major characters of the book. Hazel's cancer has limited her ability to move through the world because of being tethered to oxygen as well as her limited energy levels. Her boy friend, Augustus Waters, has lost his leg.

Although I have not had to live closely with cancer, my general experiences with colleagues and friends tells me that Green has done his homework. Readers will develop an understanding of both the physical and emotional tolls that cancer takes upon the individual, the family, and friends around them.

Readers will find the prose in this book a bit more challenging than other works by Green. However in the era of CCSS it provides opportunities to draw developing readers into increasingly sophisticated text. Both Hazel and Augustus have become sophisticated users of language. Possibly their lengthy hospital stays and recuperations have given them opportunities to develop linguistic sophistication not typical of most young adults. However, I believe that both were excellent students even before their cancer diagnosis.

As a special treat me, Green also includes a trip to a Amsterdam. His portrayal of daily life there and a visit to the Anne Frank Memorial, are realistic and helped me a relive my recent trip.

I believe that ultimately this will be an award winning book. Some of the issues that have created problems for teachers wishing to bring Green into the classroom are not as prevalent in this book.

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