The Fault In Our Stars By John Green

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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“Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.”

This is my first John Green book and if the others are as good as this one, and I suspect they might be, then the wild popularity and best-selling status is much deserved. The ability to write a story centered around teenagers who have cancer, one being undeniably terminal, and not allowing the reader to feel bad for them is a rare talent.

Death and dying is such an uncomfortable topic for most people that they usually can only deal with it in platitudes. One of my favorite parts are the expressions all over Augustus’s house (home is where the heart is and such.) It seems so lacking in light of the real life drama that Hazel and Augustus are living with.

The Fault Of Our Stars is filled with characters that feel very real. The dialogue throughout was perfect, witty and quick. The kind of conversations you remember from your teenage years when you could talk on the phone for hours.  I loved that the characters themselves deconstruct death in such a way that the reader is left knowing the hole left is with the living. Referring to the dying as a grenade which wreaks havoc on the survivors is such an interesting way to think about it.

The love story was beautiful without being cheesy. It is nice to read a Young Adult novel where the characters themselves are not so overly dramatic as to make their romance more akin to that of a harlequin novel (I’m looking at you Twilight.)

I loved everything about The Fault In Our Stars, especially the ending. It was perfect without wrapping the story in a neat bow. It is sad,  but you can believe that the characters are all the better having known each other.

The Rules Of Inheritance: A Review

The Rules of Inheritance Claire Bidwell Smith

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The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith is a memoir of life and death. Claire is only fourteen years-old when her parents are diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. This book shows Claire growing and changing with their illnesses and how it impacts her life.

The book is written in a non-linear form that jumps from year to year and various stages of illness. It shows Claire as a teenager, losing her virginity, and trying to find a way to fit in. It takes her through different jobs and different men. The death of her mother when she is 18 and in her first year of college, is life changing. She is never again the girl she was before her mother dies.

Her mother’s death gives Claire time to get to know her father. The relationship is tender and sweet. One of my favorite chapters is where Claire and her father travel to Europe to where his plane is shot down in World War II. They meet-up with a historian and he introduces them to people who remember the war and the impact the American soldiers had on their lives. Finding a statue in tribute to the soldiers who died is touching and fitting way for her father to spend the last trip they take together.

The Rules of Inheritance is about a woman who loses her parents before she is 30 and how she emerges from the other side of grief. It is honest and raw, it shows the bad feelings and remorse. There is strength, love, and eventually peace. Claire ends up a woman who overcomes her grief and makes a career out of helping others cope with theirs.

I highly recommend The Rules of Inheritance for anyone who has lost or feels lost. It is ultimately hopeful and true.

To follow the discussions and learn more about Claire Bidwell, you can find the Rules of Inheritance on the BlogHer Book Club page.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.