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'Stars' will bring even men to tears

Popular young adult novel offers a new generation a tearjerker


John Green's book is now a movie.Let me get this right out here now: I am not a man who cries very often.

OK, that said, for the first time in a very long time, I read a book this week that made my eyes water and made me pretend I have allergies. This has not happened since 2006 when I reread “Sometimes A Great Notion” by Ken Kesey.

“The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green came out a little while ago. It was the best book of 2012 according to Time magazine. So admittedly, I am a bit late to the party. However, I am quite certain that those who read it will still be shedding tears as the movie starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort premiered in theaters last week.

Before I get into “Stars” I have to admit: I was hesitant to read this book. Why? Because I read “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom in 2000.

For my generation, “Tuesdays” was the quintessential laborious tale of someone dying. While the book was fairly short, I was punched in the face with the death of Morrie. He was the quintessential dying man. He loved life. He was gracious as death took ahold of him. Morrie was the most cliché dying man I could have ever imagined.

But, the story of “Stars” examines the love affair between Hazel, a girl afflicted with terminal cancer, and Augustus, a boy who has just recovered from cancer. And I spent the entire time I read “Stars” waiting for it to disintegrate into something that very closely resembled “Tuesdays.”

Green never fell into that trap, though. Both Hazel and Augustus turned out to be imperfect characters. Though they both had stared down cancer, the characters had their problems, their “faults” outside of their disease.

Thank goodness. Because the imperfections of the characters is what made the book worth reading.

“Stars” told a story where no clichés were followed. In fact, it outright laughed in the face of clichés. “Depression is not a side effect of cancer,” Green writes. “Depression is a side effect of dying.”

Both Hazel and Augustus are their own people outside of the affliction with cancer, which we know will eventually end their lives.

The McGuffin of the story is a book about a cancer patient who eventually dies entitled “An Imperial Affliction.” Eventually, Hazel and Augustus meet the author of this incredible tome — which was one of the things that brought them together.

This book is going to make you sad. However, “Stars” is one of the most powerful, non-cliché books I have ever read. It is a book that I read from cover-to-cover inside of 24 hours.

I have watched many movies that have paled in comparison to the book — “The Green Mile” by Stephen King, for example. I have read some books that do not live up to the movie — “Wonder Boys” by Michael Chabon, for example.

But I urge you: Read the book. Or see the movie. Do one or the other. Because the story of “Stars” shows us what it means to be human.