I wrote some reviews some time ago and I have decided to repost the ones I love to archive them. This one was written just before the opening of the film which was really good too.
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. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal.
I didn’t write that. Wish I had because the words mirror what I have always felt about certain books, music and films. I want to share them so much with the intention of finding just one kindred soul. These days I have given up because there isn’t another person out there who thinks and feels like I do. But that doesn’t stop me from sharing because maybe someone would just take a chance on it and learn something for themselves.
John Green wrote that paragraph and the book is The Fault in Our Stars. I don’t like sad books, but sometimes I am drawn to them. This is a story about cancer patients. Strike that. It’s a love story and the principals happened to be suffering from cancer. It breaks your heart not because it’s sad. It does that by swelling your heart with beauty until it burst. It’s sad but it’s also very funny and insightful, with the right blend of levity and honesty. It tackles big subjects – life, death, love. I will be the first one to raise the alarm if it becomes too emotionally manipulative but that moment never comes. Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition – How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning? – is deeply moving.
This is only the third book I have read that made me tear up. I couldn’t find one emotionally false note. I am not sure how the movie would fare but I have a feeling the film wouldn’t be able to match the emotional heights the book shot for. All through last week, all the classes which were lucky to have a lesson with me, I would read Hazel’s eulogy for Gus to show kids how powerful simple words can have.
Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.