Goodreads stars are too lacking in subtlety for me to use here. I can’t say I loved a book it hurt this much to read. I can say that this story about two kids with cancer is funny, poignant, oh so smart, and very well written.
Hazel’s father says
You know what I believe? I remember in college I was taking this math class, this really great math class taught by this tiny old woman. She was talking about fast Fourier transforms and she stopped midsentence and said, ‘Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.’…That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it–or my observation of it–is temporary?”
“You are fairly smart,” I said after a while.
“You are fairly good at compliments,” he answered.”
Later Hazel says
I thought of my dad telling me that the universe wants to be noticed. But what we want is to be noticed by the universe, to have the universe give a shit what happens to us–not the collective idea of sentient life but each of us, as individuals.
I don’t know, though. In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard wrote, “Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”
Or as Ferris Bueller put it, “Life happens pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Hazel and Augustus don’t miss anything.
Have you ever noticed that when you read a book like this that the one who dies is always really smart and really funny and there is this huge gaping hole in the universe of the people they left behind? Including, now, yours? Sometimes I think it would be a relief to read a book about someone who died of cancer who was a complete asshole.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.