The shelf-talker at Readings in Hawthorn persuaded me to buy this book, and I’m so glad I did. It’s not often that you read a book so satisfying, in which you care so much about the characters. I felt such loss when it ended that I wanted to start reading it all over again.
The book’s protagonist is Hazel, a teenager with terminal cancer, depressed about her situation and with no desire to do anything but read and re-read her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction.
One of her few ventures outside, to a cancer support group, leads her to meet Augustus, who has lost his leg to the disease but is now in remission. The two quickly form a strong bond, Augustus persuading Hazel that life is to be lived, no matter how much time you have left.
Although the subject matter is obviously not cheerful, the amazing dialogue and the realistic, likable characters are uplifting (you’d swear Green must have been a teenaged girl in another life to be able to write a character this accurately), and there are many humorous moments. I became completely invested in the futures of these two characters.
Green manages to create a novel that is not soap-opera sad, but a study of the reality of a teenager with a terminal illness, dealing with questions like, ‘Will I be remembered?’ and ‘How will I leave a mark?’ And the ending … well, to me it was perfect.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I’ll definitely be searching out more John Green books – I just have to decide which one to read first!