It’s time for YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday! This week’s topic is:
What was the best book you read in January?
It will come as no shock to anyone who has had even remote contact with me during January that the best book I read last month was…
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I was super excited for this book, like I used to get when the new Harry Potter would come out. Maybe more so. I preordered it back in June 2011 when John (ok, I can’t seem to call him Mr. Green or Green because come on, he’s John Green, everyone’s internet BFF) said he would sign all of the preorders. In the ensuing months, buzz about the book grew. Secretive buzz, because there was a gag order on spoilers, but buzz nonetheless. I watched as John struggled to sign all 150,000 copies by the deadline. He had to go to an occupational therapist from all the signing, y’all.
The more I became entrenched in nerdfighteria, the more anxious I was for this book to come out.
John announced he would also release a limited-edition audiobook of himself reading the novel. I ordered that.
John announced that he and his brother Hank would go on a promotional tour for the book and Hank’s music (the Tour de Nerdfighting). The closest date was in Austin. I bought a ticket.
By the time the book arrived, I was terrified that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I should have known John wouldn’t let me down.
The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking story of two teenagers with cancer. They embark upon a wild, yet still entirely plausible, adventure together in search of the meaning behind a book they both love. I’m not going to say any more about the plot, just in case you haven’t read it.
My opinion of the book? John gave us two wonderful, nuanced characters with big lovable personalities, sharp wit, and plenty of flaws. He handles the day-to-day business of being sick with a deft hand (he’s had experience working with sick kids, and that definitely shows here). He really opened my eyes to what kids like Hazel and Augustus – and their families and friends – go through, living with cancer.
I loved this book.
I finished the book on a plane, on the way to a weekend trip to NYC. I thoroughly embarrassed myself with the gasping, snotty sobs. I had also brought along Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races, since it is February’s book club book, but I couldn’t pick it up all weekend. I didn’t want to read anything ever again. That’s how good The Fault in Our Stars was.
I also kind of never wanted to write again. Because I will never write something this funny/sad/powerful/wonderful. That’s not me being all Insecure Writer. That’s just me telling the truth.
My friend Gabe and I spent hours making t-shirts for The Hectic Glow (a band discussed in the book) for ourselves and for John and Hank, because that’s how nerdy we are, and we wore the shirts to the Tour de Nerdfighting in Austin.
When talking about the book that night, John said some great and inspiring things about his process and intent with this work. How he must have written over a million words before coming up with the final version (after years of trying to write this story). How he tries to write teenagers like they think they sound, instead of how they actually sound. How he thinks that people underestimate teenagers, and how he’s fed up with it.
No encounter with an idol is complete without my making a fool of myself, so here’s my fangirl moment from the tour. I’m paraphrasing of course:
(in the signing line, after waiting about three hours to get to John and Hank)
John: (looks at the sticky notes bearibg my name on the books I’d brought to be signed) Hi there, Mandy.
Me: (freaking out) Hi!
Gabe: Check out our cool t-shirts.
John: Hey, the Hectic Glow!
Me: (thrusting t-shirt in his face) Look! We made one for you!
John: Oh, this is nice! Thanks guys! You’ll probably see me wearing it in a video sometime. (goes back to signing) And not because all of my clothes are dirty. But yeah, they are all dirty. And it doesn’t look like we’ll get to wash them in Dallas.
Me: YOU CAN WASH THEM AT MY HOUSE! (immediately wants to die)
John: Oh no, I wouldn’t want to impose…
Me: (grabs books and runs away)
You guys. I offered to do John Green’s laundry. At my house.