One good recipe for bypassing self-pity is to exchange stories. The telling relieves you: the hearing amazes you. “Oh, my!” you realize, “it’s all okay in some wacky-grossly-unfair-but-just-fine way.” Sometimes that exchange can happen via a good book. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is one such book. I got hooked fast as the lead character, Hazel, displayed honesty I could relate to as she narrated the crass realities of a cancer support group for teens.
I share a review from National Public Radio. I cut and paste below for ease. It’s a little tip on a book worth getting your hands on. Enjoy.
‘The Fault In Our Stars': Love In A Time Of Cancer by RACHEL SYME January 17, 2012 5:28 PM
In his Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee writes that as recently as the 1950s, cancer was so feared and taboo that the New York Times refused to print the word in a support-group advertisement. It was the second-leading cause of death in the United States then — just as it is now — but it was as mysterious to most people as mortality itself. There is something monstrous about a disease that kills by wanting to live; cancer’s goal is to grow and prosper, with absolutely no regard for its host. It makes sense that people couldn’t speak about it — it’s not easy to commiserate about a nightmare.
And yet, human instinct tells us to band together to fight our enemies, even on the cellular level. Gradually, with scientific breakthroughs and education, cancer became less of a mum word and more of a buzzword. Hollywood jumped on the drama surrounding the disease, and soon films like Terms of Endearment and Beaches were keeping tissue companies in business. Novels and magazine articles highlighted survivor stories; television started adding characters afflicted with illness. Even Sex and the City‘s carousing Samantha had her share of chemo.
In recent years, the trend has gone one step beyond talking about cancer — the goal now, at least for pop culture, is to find the humor in it. Fortunately, John Green is the kind of writer to deliver it.
John Green is the New York Times best-selling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns.