The story discusses the human obsession with leaving a mark on the universe and a legacy, one that I myself have often got tangled in, spending late, teary nights wondering if anyone would remember me if I were gone, and if I was even here at all. The idea of oblivion and the inevitability of the end of the Earth and the human race, everything we have discovered and built and done, that will eventually all be gone, and be, for what?
It begs the question; if these are facts that are universally known and, in more lives than not, accepted, why do we go on building and creating for no one to notice? Especially not permanence.
Hazel is a Cancer patient who's disease is terminal. The drug Phalanxifor has bought her a few extra years of life by slowing or stopping the rate of growth in her tumours. One night at a Cancer support group, held in a church basement (or the Literal Heart of Jesus), a new supportee, there by his soon-to-be-blind friend's request, changes the case of her indefinitely short life.
Augustus Waters is an Osteosarcoma survivor, left with a prosthetic leg to prove it. He is tall and athletic with piercing blue eyes and a charismatic personality to match. The two immediately see each others' opinionated and thoughtful nature will start a deep and understanding friendship.
Watching Natalie Portman movies together and searching for metaphorical symbols in the Indianapolis landscape, Hazel and Augustus find a bond like none they have experienced before, but Hazel does not want to be a 'grenade', who will finally explode and scar all of those around her.
She tells Augustus of her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, who says that he wants to read it to discuss with her. He ends up loving the book as much as Hazel does, and with their shared desperation to know what is beyond the unwritten conclusion (the book ends mid-sentence), and the fate of the characters, Augustus uses his Wish to take himself, Hazel and her mother to Amsterdam to meet the author.
Okay, so, that's as far as I am taking the actual story. Those are the most basic details to the least upsetting half of the book. But, be warned, this book is absolutely heartbreaking. Completely. Utterly.
Sat in bed reading the last half, my iPod in my ears playing Angus and Julia Stone, I am in shuddering, shaking sobs. Tears streaming down my face, down my neck, down my chest. I mean, I have cried at other books, I have loved characters, but the honesty and realness of the characters and the story that John Green has created meant that this could be my story, it could be your story, this could be anyone's story. You don't have to be born into a scenario like this.
I started to think about who would be in the place of the characters if it were my story, which made me cry even more.
As I read the last words of the book. The last song of the album I had been listening to ended with the story.
The book may ruin your life, but I think it has changed mine. I realised it is okay to not leave this huge legacy, and that human oblivion will not and should not change how I live my life today. If I could die happily after a life of watching TV and eating all day, then that would be fine. If I could die happily after being President/a Rock-star/a Doctor, then that would be fine too.
I think that being loved by many is way behind being loved deeply by a few people that I really love too. A thousand people who like and 'love' you will not sacrifice anything for you when you need them, compared to those few that deeply love you, who will do anything for you and your life and your happiness. I never want to 'tally' how many people I have, and how many people are interested in me, because, it really is so irrelevant. You can feel enough love from only one person if they care about you enough. Would you rather have one bag of food that was big enough to last you a life time, or many smaller bags that have bite-marks and rot, and might be of no use to you at all?
I want captivation from love, not admiration. I want captivation from life, not admiration.
How to get that? Not a clue. I'm just doing what I'm doing and seeing where it gets me, because isn't that how every great person has become great, and how every forgotten person has become forgotten? Is it what you do? Or what you are?
Some infinities are bigger that other infinities, we all create our own in our life and from being on Earth, a person never stops, death is not the end of a person. The life of a celebrity and the life of a store assistant may be different, and one may be more remembered than the other, but they are both a person's infinity, they are both worth the same.
'When you do something beautiful and nobody notices, do not be sad, for the Sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.'
I recommend you read this book.