A lot of hoopla surrounds this book.
I've been thinking about this one since I finished it a few days ago and I just wasn't sure what to write. I read other reviews and, aside from the ones FULL of animated gifs, I kept saying "Yeah, kinda right".
I think I'll write this review starting with some background - brief background. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was about 7 years old. It's a horrible disease but still a better disease than some others. Colitis, like Crohn's Disease, can turn deadly quickly or slowly. Mine chose to go quickly. Within 2 years, I had my entire colon and rectum removed because eagle-eyed, intelligent doctors at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis saw that cancer was a very definite possibility. I am a lucky one but it was a scary, horrific ordeal and I'm well aware that I got a second chance. The "big surgery" came with a warning that I might not make it. UC is never cured but I'm still thankful that I never had cancer.
That kind of experience, as a kid, saddles you for the rest of your life. While your cohorts and peers are running around, having a blast and enjoying life.... you are not so much doing that. You are aware that things are bigger, scarier, and, honestly, that kids die. Being at Riley for so much of my childhood, that was very apparent. Kids. Die.
I was looking for a notebook to write in the other day and grabbed a random one. In it was a listing of my free-flowing thinking from 2 years ago that all started with "I want....". It spanned four pages and started with: "I want to leave behind something bigger than me".
And there is exactly why I loved this book.
Green pegged the cancer kids, the sick kids, exactly. The love story of Hazel and Gus was an uplifting thing to read, don't get me wrong. I wanted those two crazy kids to work out. But Gus' almost-obsession with needing to leave something great behind, because otherwise - really - what's the point in dying young, made me keep nodding along. Yes. I want that too. It is almost an obsession, a drive, to have all the struggles and pain mean something. But Hazel's sentiments are probably the correct ones. Tread lightly and love deeply but not widely. Move on to whatever is next.
Hoopla well earned. Plus it was so fun to have it set in my town (or near town). I've spent my time on Funky Bones, watching the stars. It's a well written, well meaning, well worded book.
This is not an ordinary review. Except I still leave you with READ THIS. It's worth it.