Sunday, May 18, 2014

In Which You Must Be Prepared For Spoilers

I don't have a Sacrament Meeting Art piece for you today.  I started one, but it isn't finished yet.  It will be finished next week though, and I'll put it up then.  But today, I want to talk about the book I just finished reading on Friday night that had me crying so much I woke up with puffy eyes and Kurtis laughed at me for it (the crying - not my eyes. I doubt he noticed my eyes were puffy):

This is the screen shot of the book taken from John Green's website.

Oh blimey, you are thinking if you have read it already.  If you have not read it already, stop reading this blog post immediately. Read the book and then come back and read the blog post.  Because I am about to talk about what happens in this book and I will not hold back.  I need this.  Because after you read this book, you will want to form a support group with others who have also read this book.  And since I don't have that available to me right now (I suggested this book for a book club in July, and that's just too far away for me), I am going to lay it all out right here, right now.  But know that you have been warned if you continue reading.  Also, I own the book, so just ask if you want to borrow it. I've already promised it to my neighbor, though so you may have to wait.

The book starts out with a girl telling you she has cancer.  Her name is Hazel Grace.  She is terminally ill and the drug she is on has been keeping her alive for three years longer than her doctors ever thought it would.  This drug is not a real drug.  She has become reclusive due to the fact that she is dying and doesn't want to make too many friends as she is trying to make the impact of her impending death as minimal as possible.  Her mother thinks she is depressed and makes her go to a support group for people who also have cancer.  Most of the people in her support group are in remission and she doesn't feel she can relate to them much.  She also doesn't think she is depressed (she is).  But to please her mother, she goes.
During one of her sessions, she meets Augustus.  He is a seventeen year-old boy in remission, but had to have his leg amputated due to his cancer.  He is gorgeous and while she loves the idea of being friends with him, she does not want him to fall in love with her.  It's too late.  For him it was love at first sight.  For her as well, but she couldn't let him in quite so quickly.
I've read A Walk To Remember and I've seen the movie.  I liked the movie better.  That doesn't happen often.  Any way, as I was reading this story, I just knew it would be like that.  In that book a healthy boy needs math tutoring and the girl with cancer helps him.  She tells him that he has to promise not to fall in love with her, though.  He laughs (because he is quite arrogant and a trouble maker) and promises.  But he does fall in love with her.  When he tells her, she cries and tells him about her cancer and then he spends the rest of the movie doing really romantic things for her and loving her for as long as he can until she dies.  In the end, he is a better person and turns his life around.  Very Nicolas Sparks.
This is not that book.  No, not even close.  
Hazel Grace is obsessed with a book called The Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten.  This book is not a real book.  But it is also about a girl with cancer.  She has read and re-read this book a million times and considers Van Houten to be her third best friend (although she has never met him and all the letters she has written him go unanswered).  This book has no ending.  It just stops - leaving a lot of unanswered questions and she wants nothing more that to meet Van Houten and find out the answers to those questions.
She shares this wish with Augustus, who then tells her she should use her "wish".  Embarrassed, she responds that she has already used her wish.  He has not used his wish yet, though.
He determines that he will use his wish to take Hazel and her mother to Amsterdam where Van Houten now resides.  They have a wonderful time there.  Except when they meet Van Houten.  Turns out he's a drunk and not a very nice one, either.  His assistant is so horrified by the things he says to Hazel that she quits, and then she takes them to see where Anne Frank lived while she wrote her diary.  There, they share their first kiss.  Well.  Their first long kiss.  The previous ones had been kisses on the cheek and the forehead.  This is when she finally lets him in.  It is a beautiful moment.
But chapter 13 (of 25), is where things take a very, very different turn, and I start to realize that this is not A Walk To Remember.  No, no.  Not even close.  Augustus has a secret that he has been keeping from Hazel.   His cancer is back and it is everywhere.  Suddenly, a character that I didn't even realize I had become all that attached to is the one dying.  I was prepared for Hazel to die.  I had accepted her fate, and knew it had to be she that leaves us before the end of the book.  Was I going to be sad about it?  Yes, of course.  But it wouldn't come as a surprise.  But Augustus?  No!  Not Augustus!
With every chapter after this, cracks begin to form in my glass heart.  I still hope.  I mean, her drug has kept her alive for so long. He'll get better.  Something will beat this evil growing inside him.  They just found each other!  They need to be together.  Hope.  Denial.  Same thing, really.
And suddenly, by chapter 21, I am sobbing and I feel like I did when my grandpa died all over again.  Curse you, John Green for making me fall in love with out knowing and then cracking my heart in pieces before shattering it all together!
It's an amazing book.

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