Where does fault lie?

fault-in-starsFor a young adult/teen fictional book, this story has a deep philosophical perspective. The thing I love about this book is that even though it is fiction, it could be a true story, I can picture a child/teen going through a difficult situation and having the opinions and personalities similar to Hazel and the other teens. The thing we have to understand is that while this may be a story about a girl with a terminal illness, it also is a story about how difficulties come at many ages and stages in life.

For me, this is important because it can serve as a reminder that we all go through trials. It does not matter how old we are. Fact, sometimes kids get cancer and other types of terminal illnesses. It’s a big deal to anyone at any age. Had the author not used this extreme, we probably would not appreciate the story near as much, and it certainly would not impact such a large audience. The fact of the matter is that all people go through different things throughout the stages of life. Being not too far removed from the teenage life, I understand that a crisis or family matter has a strong impact on them and the decisions that they make. So often I feel as though we dismiss the crisis and writ it off as “teen drama.” Don’t forget, you were there once. I digress…

In case you haven’t figured out through my ranting, The Fault in Our Stars is about a girl that has a terminal cancer and it affects her lungs to the point that she has to be on oxygen. Hazel hates that her luna fail her, and she especially hates that her parents are “burdened” with the constant care the believe Hazel needs.

Hazel’s mom encourages her to go to a support group for young cancer patients. Hazel greatly dislikes going, but she agrees to go for her mom’s sake. One day a new boy shows up, and he seems interested in Hazel. He insists on learning her story (not her cancer story). They become very close friends very quickly. For Hazel, this friend shows her that life goes beyond her cancer story, and he helps her realize that it’s important to continue living rather than to focus on dying.

While I truly love and enjoy this story, I am slightly concerned about the use of language and the acceptance of some actions of the teens. I understand that these kids are hurting and need a way to express that, but using foul language is really not the best, most constructive way to get that out. The second issue I have is the idea that because they are going to die a premature death anyway, they get a free pass to do whatever they want even if it is sexual in nature.

Overall the story is amazing and the author has a way drawing you in. I highly encourage you to read the book before watching the movie. You will appreciate the intelligence and research by John Green to write such a beautiful fictional story.



Taking or Borrowing

notebook-book-thiefTaking and borrowing are very different things. If you know right from wrong, you know that borrowing is okay if you have asked permission from the owner to use something. However, borrowing with the intent of keeping (aka stealing) is socially unacceptable. Why then, do I feel compelled to empathize with Leisel Meminger, a book thief? I enjoy reading just as much as the next person, but the one time was accused of borrowing a book from the library and never returned it, I felt awful about it. It had my stomach in knots even though I knew I had returned the book, but the library could not find it, and they wanted us to pay for it. Long story short, they found the book in questions (whew). However, Leisel takes one book and as a reader you might feel kind of sorry for her.

Here’s the backdrop for the story. Leisel is a girl living in Nazi Germany. She lives with a foster family after her brother dies and mother leaves. The kicker is that Leisel does not know the first thing about reading, so she goes to school and learns to read with the help of her foster father. Leisel is a bit mischievous, but her heart is good and she means well. That does not mean she never finds herself in trouble. Her mother even has a nickname for her. The Book Thief is a story filled with difficulties, learning curves, and lifelong friendships. While it is a hefty book, you’ll find yourself wanting to turn the next page to find out what happens next.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was recently made into a film, and from what I can tell, it did rather well. I enjoyed both the book and the film, but I highly recommend you read the book before watching the film. I will say the film does a pretty good job sticking to the storyline. It is one of the better films based on a book that I have seen.

Markuz Zusak is a fabulous writer who is also known for writing The Messenger. He certainly did his research, and the historical background descriptions are very well depicted in his choice of words. ┬áZusak does a wonderful job telling Leisel’s incredible story. I highly recommend this book to mature teen and young adult readers. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, then you will enjoy this book. Barnes and Noble recommends this book for readers ages 12-17 years old. I would like to warn parents that moderate language is present. Although the words are in German, the English interpretation is given. I hope you enjoy reading this historical fiction novel as I did.