Aren’t We All Lost Stars?
A take* on John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco
I am not surprised when the novel got famous because of its movie counterpart or vise-versa. It is usual: people like to follow one particular author and recommend books which will lead to a huge snowball collection of fans which will eventually look– clamor– for movie versions. The Fault in Our Stars isn’t special that way. It may have been that the author is really good or that the lead actors of the movie played important roles in a different movie. What took me aback was I had a different reception of the book compared to the others who had already read it, seen the movie, or pretended to have done either or both.
The general public said the same thing. The Fault in Our Stars is a “romance” novel about two cancer patients; how Augustus has done a lot of things for Hazel, how he has sacrificed his own wish just for her, and how Hazel realizes her love for him. I say nay. It is not about romance. It’s about losing someone special because of cancer.
I have lost one.
My grandmother brought me up until I got into high school. During my fourth year, my family and I received a news that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It came as a shock to all of us. After a few months, she passed away.
J.K. Rowling described how Harry Potter has grieved for Sirius Black. He throws and breaks Dumbledore’s things without care. He lashes out and cries. Dumbledore merely accepts these actions and even encourages Harry to vent out his pent up emotions. When my grandmother passed away, I was no Harry Potter. I was left in a void. I could hear voices but I did not understand any. High school lessons and prospects of graduating with honors did not seem as important as before. My parents and relatives were not Dumbledore as well. They were all too busy nursing their own grief. I was left to mine.
In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel has been there with Augustus in his time of need. Despite having to carry her cannula around to support her, she still manages to assist him and make him smile. I was able-bodied when cancer started spreading in my grandma’s body but I was several leagues away from her and couldn’t do anything. Hazel has written her eulogy for him, said great things about the guy, and made him feel special. I can’t remember doing this for my grandma.
In Augustus Waters’ funeral, Isaac, his friend who also has cancer, stands up and delivers this message: I do not want to see the world without him –which ironic for someone blind. Upon reading this, looking pass how clever the irony is, I thought it was pretty selfish of Isaac and I got angry with him as if I were in the funeral myself. Until the end, he still thought about himself, about how he felt upon losing someone. What made me angrier is it has reminded me of the feeling I thought I already lost but in fact it has just been hidden somewhere: helplessness.
This helplessness is not one-sided, though. It is difficult for people to imagine how it feels like to know we are about to leave the people we love. We have always been at the other side of the field, in the greener pasture. Who knows what kind of grief they suffer before leaving? We don’t know. I don’t know. We do not bother to ask. Asking means acknowledging the end so instead we ask how they physically feel. However, the band, My Chemical Romance has tried to encapsulate helplessness through their song, Cancer:
“Oh, my agony
Know that I will never marry
Baby, I’m just soggy from the chemo
But counting down the days to go
‘Cause the hardest part of this
is leaving you.”
Love is an essential substance of the novel, yes. I cannot blame those people who are addicted and cannot get over Romeo-Juliet tragic themes. I pity them. It is true that Augustus and Hazel have fallen in love with one another at the wrong time. However, it is way beyond the characters making out and professing their undying love for one another. Though yes, it may be the silver lining in this potent cancerous cloud but Love has not kept Augustus nor Hazel alive, has it? It is way beyond the sacrifices one can make for a loved one. It reflects loss and people’s helplessness.
I read this not because it was famous. I read this so I could understand my grandmother and what it felt when she was about to leave us. It is because half of me died when she left and I want to get it back.
In the end, John Greene has been able to give an introspection of grief and it has reflected mine.
Unlike my previous articles, I wrote this out of pure emotion and –though this may have traces of objectivity in it– I do not classify this as an analysis of The Fault in Our Stars but merely a reflection. It has been years since I wrote an article that bagged me the highest price in a school competition and got me started into writing. The theme that time was childhood. Instead, I wrote about my grandmother who has shaped my childhood. As the cliché goes, the rest was history. I never thought I would write something about her again.
“Lights will guide you home. And ignites your bones. I will try to fix you.” – Coldplay, Fix You
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Coldplay, Fix you
My Chemical Romance, Cancer
Maroon 5, Lost Stars