The Fault in Our Stars Summary

John Greene

The Fault in Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars Summary

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The Fault in Our Stars is the sixth John Greene novel, and it was published in 2012. It is the story of love and acceptance of fate as a young girl with cancer meets and falls in love with a former basketball player and amputee. The title is taken from a line from Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar.

Hazel Grace Lancaster is attending a cancer support group. She has cancer that’s spread to her lungs, and her mother has made her start going. She doesn’t see any benefit in going until one particular meeting when she meets Augustus Waters, a former basketball player whose cancer caused him to lose his right leg. He is there supporting another friend, Isaac, who’s only remaining eye is due to be removed because of his returning cancer.

They have immediate chemistry, and they agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Hazel recommends a book called An Imperial Affliction about a girl whose experiences parallel Hazel’s. When Augustus expresses disappointment that the novel ends without a satisfying conclusion, she tells him that the novel’s author, Peter Van Houten, withdrew after the novel’s publication and hasn’t been heard from since.

A year later, Augustus has found Van Houten’s assistant, and they have managed to start an email conversation through her. They ask him questions about important pieces of the novel, but Van Houten tells them that he can only answer Hazel’s questions in person. Augustus surprises Hazel with two tickets to see him in Amsterdam.

When they arrive in Amsterdam, Augustus confesses his love for Hazel, but the two discover that Van Houten is only a mean-spirited drunk. His assistant confesses that she arranged the meeting, and he is so enraged that he berates Hazel and Augustus and makes fun of Hazel’s cancer. The two of them flee his house.

Later, Augustus reveals that his cancer has returned, and they reaffirm their love for each other. Augustus’s health worsens when they return to Indianapolis and he ends up in the ICU. Augustus arranges a pre-funeral because of his condition, inviting Hazel and his friend Isaac to say their eulogies. His health worsens, and he dies a few days after that. Hazel is heartbroken and doesn’t know what she will do. At the funeral, Van Houten shows up to apologize to Hazel.

She discovers that Augustus was writing a sequel to An Imperial Affliction. In it, he explains that pain in the world is inevitable and that there is nothing we can do to avoid it. However, we get to choose who hurts us, and ultimately he is happy with his choice. He hopes that Hazel is happy with her choice too. The book concludes with Hazel affirming that she is happy with who she chose.

The book is one that addresses our imperfect situations and the way that love overcomes. The two main characters are dealt a poor hand in life, but this doesn’t prevent them from falling in love and taking all the time they can to be with each other while they can. Not everything can be perfect or have a perfect ending, and no one is promised such. The best we can do is live our lives as if today is our last day.

This hope is pervasive in Augustus even as his life is ending. His sequel reveals that he is happy with his choices despite the fact that they hurt, and Hazel affirms this choice. There’s a strong sense of everyday courage in these people who are faced with some terrible circumstances.

The book is also somewhat of a coming of age story, albeit one that happens under very different circumstances than the usual coming of age. Hazel’s cancer causes her to miss out on many of the normal experiences of her peers, and she isn’t even sure she has much of a future to look forward to. Through her experiences with Augustus, however, we begin to see her transformation and her first steps into an uncertain adulthood. For a moment, she is a normal teenager exploring relationships for the very first time.

This is a redeeming relationship for both of them. As everyone around them comes to terms with their illnesses, they are able to find normalcy in each other. Even when the world doesn’t turn out the way they hoped, such as in their negative experience with Van Houten, overall their love for each other is a hopeful point.

For Hazel, she is so focused on her own mortality and how it could hurt those around her that she hasn’t even considered how those close to her will also die and potentially hurt her too. Augustus’s point in his sequel is that we choose who we spend our remaining years with, and although we cannot escape the hurt they bring, it is a beautiful choice we make to love them anyway.

The Fault in Our Stars is a book of love and longing for things that we have missed in life and finally find. The two main characters experience a momentary reprieve from the heaviness of being faced with their own mortality, and it is something both make clear they would choose again and again.