As adults there seems to be two schools of thought of YA literature (that’s Young Adult for those not in the know). Some love it as an easy read but with a bit of substance and with the young adult perspective. Others think there are just far to many great adult fiction books to read to bother with YA books. I slot somewhere in the middle I think (does that mean there are really three schools, or perhaps the schools are on a spectrum?). I’ve always read YA because I’m an secondary English teacher so it’s par for the course. I read them with my students – kids of all ages love being read to, so if you’re a parent keep doing it for as long as your young ones will let you, it is enormously beneficial for literacy development all the way through adolescence – and I read them myself so I could keep up with the trends, recommend good books to my students and try to foster a love of reading in them. What’s that saying? Those that don’t like reading just haven’t found the right book yet. That’s the attitude I took with my students, those that claimed to hate reading were just challenging me to get them onto the right books.
Anyway, I have digressed before I even started. My point is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a YA novel. I read this for book club, one of the members being a particular fan of good YA books – I’m sure one day we’ll see her name on a published YA book. She suggested this book a couple of months ago and given that the film was also recently released it seemed good timing. And as YA books go, this is a good one. I’m sure Year 9 and 10 students (girls mainly I would assume) are tearing up all over the country reading this.
The story centers around Hazel, August Waters and to a lesser extent Isaac, all teenagers at various stages of their battles with various types of cancer. They meet in a support group, literally in the heart of Jesus (that will make more sense if you read the book) and the story builds from there into one of love and the making of a dream. The ending is sad, tearfully so even for a grown woman, but not perhaps in the way you might at first suspect.
So is it worth reading THIS YA book. I would say a resounding yes, but be prepared for the teenage angsty bits and cringe-worthy moments and a narrative that will have you channeling your former 16 year old self. I wouldn’t or couldn’t do YA back to back, but for the best ones out there I definitely think it’s worth the trip to Teen World.