I usually try to avoid anything “trendy” when it comes to talking and writing, but really…this book and this movie…OH THE FEELS. So many emotions all at once.
First, the book:
If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t even really want to read this book. I mean, it’s a book about teenagers dying of cancer. I just wasn’t interested. But then the world (all my book-loving friends, anyway) just wouldn’t stop talking about it and how amazing it was. So, I picked up a copy at the bookstore, mostly because there were close to 100 reservations at the library and I am, by all accounts, a little irrational when it comes to books. And it took a whole 4 pages for me to be hooked.
John Green is a gifted writer, for one thing. He somehow manages to balance unquestionable eloquence with honest, real conversation. It could seem flowery and over the top, but it doesn’t. There are probably three dozen quotes from the book that I would hang on my walls.
Seriously, they can just go on and on! In the middle of a tragic story, there is such a celebration of what it truly means to be alive.
And then I heard they were making a movie of by beloved book.
And everything inside of me screamed “NO!!!!!”
But, I saw it anyway.
At first, I kinda wanted to hate it. I wanted to be disappointed by it. I wanted it to do a disservice to the book I loved. Not because I wanted it to fail, but because I was sure there was no way it could succeed. And then, as the date got closer, I wanted it to succeed. I wanted it to be huge. I wanted everyone to know the story, even if they didn’t want to read the books. I wanted to celebrate Augustus and Hazel Grace and their love; their story; their little infinity.
So, I went to the movie. There were brilliant moments. The dialogue, much lifted right from the book, didn’t come off as cheesy, because it was delivered with wry smiles and honest tears in the most important places. It didn’t shy away from Hazel’s cannula, which I know was a big deal for John Green and the entire team behind the story. It didn’t make light of childhood cancer, but it didn’t make it the center of the story.
Because, whether movie of book, the story is about first loves and first heartbreaks. The main characters just happen to have cancer, too. The story is about living well. The story is about dying well. The story is about embracing this moment, right now, because it might be the only one you have.
I cried like a baby through the last 1/3 of the movie. I cried for Augustus and Hazel. I cried for my friends and family who have lived with, loved with and fought through cancer. I cried for little infinite moments that I had taken for granted.
So, which is better? Movie or book? This quote sums it up nicely:
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
The movie is maybe one of the best book-to-screen adaptations I have ever seen. But still, the book. Always the book.