The Fault in Our Stars
PG-13 2014 ‧ Drama film/Comedy-drama ‧ 2h 13m
Production Company: Temple Hill Entertainment
Writers: Scott Neustadter (screenplay), Michael H. Weber (screenplay)
Director: Josh Boone
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff
Information about the Book:
Original Book by: John Green
Penguin Young Readers Group 2012
Hazel Grace has cancer and she knows she is going to die, maybe soon. She has accepted it in her own way and is living her life knowing that death is closer to her than it should be to a sixteen year old girl. Forced to “make friends” now that she is stopped going to school, Hazel’s parents force her to participate in the local support group, where Hazel meets the handsome and equally ill-fated Augustus Waters who reveals his titanium leg and his greatest fear to Hazel: not dying, but not having lived in a way that mattered.
A doomed romance between these two quickly develops and set against the backdrop of cancer treatments, practical discussions about death, and daydreams of normal life. Hazel and Augustus suffer through pain, relapses, awkward teenage situations and moments of hilarious levity with each other and with their friends. When Hazel reveals her one true wish, to go to Amsterdam and meet her idol, author Peter Van Houten, so that she can ask him what happens to the character in her favorite book by him, An Imperial Affliction, Augustus is given the perfect opportunity to fulfill his dream and Hazel’s both. He gets to do something meaningful by gifting his unused “Make a Wish” and she gets to go to Amsterdam -and so the two lovers set off on an exciting and epic journey together.
Old for their years, but inexperienced as teens in the world, Augustus and Hazel struggle, physically and emotionally, to survive through this journey and although disappointed when the her favorite author turns out to be just a bitter old drunk, Augustus has plans of his own to make this trip together magical and romantic. Together, there are still a few other things on their “wish lists,” including a romantic dinner, a dance, a kiss, and intimacy that neither of them ever thought they would be brave enough to experience before they die.
As the end closes in, as it must when both main characters are dying, struggles and end-of-life requests must be recognized and honored. Difficult goodbyes come and we watch as they let go of each other in the physical world but look to the stars to find hope that things can be okay.
John Green writes deftly about things only teens really understand: awkward moments just before a first kiss, parents who do not offer enough space to breath, decisions that will define the rest of your life that you are not allowed to make for yourself. Addressing questions of dying and death for teens is no exception. Mortality is not a subject most teens are able to get their heads around – they are young and they still think they might stay that way indefinitely. Some may have been touched by serious illness or death, but often that is “the other” and not something they apply to their own existence. “It can’t happen to me.” The appeal of this story is that these teens know they are ill, they know they will die soon and they are still willing to fall in love and experience that together.
The only reservation I have with the movie, and also with the book, is that Green has written characters that if I was not occasionally reminded, do not appear to be teens on the outside. And neither do their friends. The wise-for-our-years words and perspectives offered in the story blur the lines a little about what the experience of illness and death is for a teen versus a person who has lived a full life. And maybe that is the point, that it really makes no difference, as long as you have lived.
The story raises some really important questions about self-directed medical care, dying wishes, end of life choices and the importance of practical discussions and decisions as well as emotional ones where life and death are concerned. Thought provoking, inspiring and hopeful, this movie moved me and everyone in my theater to tears. None of us likes to say goodbye to characters we love, whether they are real or fictional.
Hazel and Augustus know two things for sure: they both have terminal cancer and they both want to experience joy and love before they have to say goodbye. Whatever comes, one day at a time, these star-crossed lovers will face life together they are okay. Okay.
Information about the Author
John Green is an award-winning author of several YA novels, including Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. John was selected by TIMEmagazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers (youtube.com/vlogbrothers), one of the most popular online video projects in the world. John lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Awards for the Film: Golden Trailer Award winner 2014: Best Romance; Heartland Film 2014 winner: Truly Moving Picture Award; Hollywood Film Awards 2014 winner: Hollywood Film Award Best Breakout Performance: Actress – Shailene Woodley; People’s Choice Awards, USA 2015 Nominated: People’s Choice Award Favorite Movie Duo – Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and Favorite Dramatic Movie; Seattle International Film Festival 2014: Nominated Golden Space Needle Award Best Film; Teen Choice Awards 2014 winner: Scene Stealer – Nat Wolff; Choice Movie: Chemistry – Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff; Choice Movie: Breakout Star – Ansel Elgort; Choice Movie: Drama; Choice Movie Actress: Drama – Shailene Woodley; Choice Movie Actor: Drama – Ansel Elgort; Young Hollywood Awards 2014 winner: Best On-Screen Couple; Best Cast Chemistry – Film
Content Area: Teen Romance > Contemporary; Literature & Fiction; Social & Family Issues; Death & Dying
Booktalk Ideas: N/A
Text Measures/Reading Level:
Quantitative: Lexile Level: 850L
Age range: 14 – 17 Years
Always check the American Library Association website for strategies and tips in handling challenges to library materials at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/challengedmaterials/support/strategies
Movie Website: http://thefaultinourstarsmovie.com/
The Fault in Our Stars can be downloaded as a PDF (courtesy of the author John Green) here: http://thefaultinourstarspdf.com/
John Green reads Chapter One of his book:
Why This Choice?
I loved the book, and John Green’s other books, so I was excited to see the movie.