The Fault In Our Stars.

The beautifully-named John Green book, The Fault In Our Stars, referring to a line from Shakespeare, could have as easily been called, Romeo and Juliet: If They Both Had Cancer.

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper...

Though fiction, it is based on the real-life story of Esther Earl, who died of thyroid cancer at age 16, in 2010.

Earl established a substantial online presence and can still be found on YouTube  and her photo sites.

Her parents have turned her energy and awesomeness into a foundation to provide financial support to families of children with cancer, This Star Won’t Go Out.

What Is a Nerdfighter?

Esther, like the heroine of The Fault in Our Stars, was a nerdfighter.

As I no longer have teenagers in the house, I had no idea what this was.

Apparently, it’s an online community of nerds, sharing tips with each other on how to be awesome in the world.

Their website has a mix of posts like “The Five Worst Places to Vomit,” Brain Training Games in Focus, Speed, Language, Spatial and Math and “The Inadequacy of Empathy.”

Their stated goal is to increase awesomeness.

You can see why smart teenagers love it.

Cancer Survivors

Normally, the books reviewed here are about cancer survivors, what they did that others can copy to increase their own chances of survival.

In the book, “The Fault In Our Stars,” the heroine is still alive at the end, but the reader is told repeatedly that her diagnosis, thyroid cancer with metastases to the lungs, is fatal.

This was the diagnosis that Esther Earl had. Defying all odds, she lived nearly four years after the diagnosis.

The book, then, is valuable in its exploration of creating meaning in a life for which the end is known.

And, it is valuable in revealing the truths that only teenagers are willing to say.

How Can a Book About Cancer Be Funny?

Green’s mastery of teenage dialogue has you hearing the voices of the teenagers in your life in your head.

Laugh-out-loud funny, heart-wrenching, brutally honest.

These words are pale descriptions of the book itself.

Perhaps a couple of excerpts will help:

From the heroine, a 15-year-old girl:

“I told Mom I wanted to call [my boyfriend] to get her out of the room, because I couldn’t handle her I-can’t-make-my-daughter’s-dreams-come-true sad face.”

On her boyfriend’s decision to put an ad on a local come-and-get-it-for-free website to dispose of the girl’s backyard swingset because it was making her sad to remember the happier times it represented:

“Desperately Lonely Swing Set Needs Loving Home

One swing set, well worn but structurally sound, seeks new home.

Make memories with your kid or kids so that some day he or she or they will look into the backyard and feel the ache of sentimentality as desperately as I did this afternoon.

It’s all fragile and fleeting, dear reader, but with this swing set, your child(ren) will be introduced to the ups and downs of human life gently and safely, and may also learn the most important lesson of all:

No matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can’t go all the way around.

…I never saw the swing set again.”

On choices, after an encounter with an idolized author:

“You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.”


In the end, all we all have is the meaning we make of the time we have.

This book shares one girl’s journey.

If you are a grandma with grandchildren fighting childhood cancer,  share one girl’s and one family’s journey when ordering the book by clicking here, The Fault in Our Stars.

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Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

Click here to order this blog on your Kindle.


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