Augustus Waters’ name was spoken so many times by the middle school girls in my Sunday School class that you would have thought he was a boy in our youth group rather than a character in a #1 New York Times Bestseller book. Naturally, I was curious as to what drew such attention to this book, especially since it lacked zombies and werewolves (perhaps this is the end of that trend – I do hope so).
I borrowed The Fault in Our Stars and found that I read the book in its entirety that Sunday afternoon. From an initial cultural standpoint, I was excited to realize that the author is John Green, vlogger of Mental Floss. As an English Major with an emphasis in Creative Writing, I was fascinated that this male author had chosen to narrate the book from the point of view of the female character.
The first line of the book drew me in,
Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Our coming of age love story sums up like this: Hazel, miraculously recovering from thyroid cancer that moved to her lungs, meets Augustus “Gus” Waters, osteosarcoma survivor (who lost a leg to it), and the two fall in love.
What kept me glued to the couch that day (other than a 100 degree fever), was the heads on approach that John Green took to the issue of religion and belief in these two characters who had both faced their own potential death as teenagers.
Characters can struggle with beliefs. In fact, Kate Weiss recently wrote a guest blog on this very subject. After all, if a novel is based on reality, don’t we all struggle occasionally? And I would even say that I do not have a problem with characters who have not fully formed their beliefs before the novel is over. But I do think that in order for me to endorse a book, I need to see glimpses of the truths found in Scripture.
But my middle school girls didn’t chatter about the truths of the book, they fantasized marrying Gus.