Danger, Will Robinson!
This review (of sorts) is a rambling, depressing mess.
You. Have. Been. Warned.
link to GoodReads here
Sometimes I feel like a broken record when talking about my dad and his so-called battle with cancer. Most of the time, I feel like I'm stuck in this awkward silence wanting (yet not wanting) to share and having no clue how to begin.
Let's be frank, sharing with the internet your pain and suffering can come off as either a. look at me look at me, b. *emo in the corner,* or c. flippant, at best. Furthermore Susan, nobody really wants to hear about it. If they do, it's sorta okay to talk about it a little, but not too much. The line is extremely fine.
Yet, when you drop off the social media grid without preamble, how do you explain your sudden come back without mentioning the dreaded: Yeah, so, my dad died of cancer, and no, I don't want your pity, I just want to talk about it, cause it's sort of a big deal to me?
My struggles over the last two years with reading and writing and social media-ing have been directly related to the sudden loss of my father.
And somehow, the book The Fault in Our Stars got mixed up in my grieving process.
See, I'm a huge John Green fan. His writing is pristine. His sense of humor slays me. And when I read his books, I think "good Lord, I'd love to write a story even a tenth as good as this book." Needless to say that early in 2012, pre-ordering this book was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it arrived on our doorstep the same day I got news my dad had a mass in his bladder and the doctor was saying it could be cancer. Not soon after, we had confirmation. Before we knew what was happening, he was in the ICU and we were learning his body was made of cancer.
Now, fast forward to April of 2012, when my dad was dead, and I was trying to get back into the swing of life, and this book mocked me from our bookshelf. Suddenly, cancer books made me angry and uncomfortable and I wasn't happy with Mr. Green for daring to write a cancer book.
Where did he get off? How dare he believe he could possibly understand. And why would he do this to his readers? Why make them suffer in ways no one should have to suffer? What joy could he possibly find in that?
It was sick. It was twisted. And I was pissed.
My negative feelings toward this book built up. Every time I looked at the book, I couldn't help but envision those last few moments we had with my father in the ICU as he took his final breath. And I wanted a direct phone line to Mr. Green so I could ask him how he felt qualified to define such a moment.
Which I know isn't fair, but feelings don't care about fairness.
They just feel.
Recently, I realized my anger toward this book wasn’t about Mr. Green or his rights (which, of course, he has the right to write any story he'd like), but it was about me and my pain and my frustration. Somehow, I'd decided to attach to this novel my sorrow and rage over the loss of my father.
Ridiculous? Heck, yeah.
Give me a little slack here. I’m a nerdy bookworm. Books are my lifeline.
So, now that I've read The Fault in Our Stars, every thing's better, right?
If only life was that simple.
I'll say this much:
This is a beautifully written book. A book about two people and their struggles with death and love and suffering and fairness and indignity and cancer. Cancer that tricky bastard who doesn't care about age or sex or good or bad or right or wrong. It doesn't think about tearing families apart, leaving young men fatherless and old men without their sons. It doesn't care about dignity or shame, love or pain. It just wants to live and grow and weed its way into the very fabric of our being. It leaves behind it a lasting legacy, one that just might outlast the human race.
For me, this is the cornerstone of Mr. Green's story. As I closed this book late last night and put it back on the shelf, I realized I felt both hopeful and destroyed. By reading this novel, I feel I've made some small progress. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to untangle my father's death from this book, but instead of fearing the association, I've found some peace in it.
Unknowingly, Mr. Green has given me a gift. It might not be a gift I wanted. It might not be a gift I understand. However, it is the gift I needed.
In the words of C.S. Lewis:
We read to know we are not alone.
After reading this book, I don't feel so alone.