I felt that it was about time that, having seen the film, The Fault In Our Stars, this librarian read the book by John Green and delved a little deeper into the story behind the novel. Many of our readers here at Berkhamsted already knew the book, told us that John was their favourite author and asked us whether we could wait to see the film… So, being one of the slower librarians on the uptake, I have finally read the novel (which I loved), seen the film and looked more closely into the background, which our students may not know too much about. I quickly found that John was inspired to write the novel after meeting and getting to know Esther Grace Earl at LeakyCon 2009 (now known as GeekyCon, originally a Harry Potter fan-orientated convention based in the USA and Canada, now embracing all kinds of geeky things, music from rock bands ‘Harry and the Potters‘ and ‘The Whomping Willows‘, to name but two, nerdfighters and so much more…).
This Star Won’t Go Out is a book by Esther and her family, and includes pages from her journal and recollections from Esther’s parents, Lori and Wayne Earl, about her diagnosis as a sufferer of thyroid cancer, aged 12, how she coped and managed her illness, and her thoughts about life and how it was, to suffer in this way. It is a wonderful book, and whilst desperately moving, Esther’s sense of fun, thoughtfulness on her illness as well as for others and how they were affected by it, shines throughout. She doesn’t say much about what she achieves and how she reaches out to others, but the testament of her parents and friends, both IRL (in real life!) and online, speak volumes about her ability to encourage others to pull through in the face of adversity. One thing thing which struck me when reading this book was very much the positive aspects of online social media. The best of support chatrooms, YouTube videos, and blogs is apparent and the help these media can offer to young people who are suffering is immense. In an age where we are encouraged to be very wary of the worst aspects of social media, it was enlightening to find so many examples of the best. John Green wrote the introduction to the book, and I was moved to read how she was the inspiration (although not the basis) for Hazel Grace Lancaster, his heroine.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Fault In Our Stars too, reading it solidly in between working and family life, in a very short time. I found it moving, devastating, amusing (the sense of humour exhibited by the young cancer sufferers made me think about things which go wrong in my life and how it is possible to see chinks of humour in almost any situation), and uplifting. I feel that the author clearly understands how teenagers work and how they think, let alone how they may feel about things that happen to them, and, by the popularity of his writing, teens agree with this. I also loved that the film’s storyline was so close to the novel, making it resonate for readers, who are so often disappointed by such adaptations. The acting was superb and a testament to the abilities of the cast, particularly its younger members: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff.
In our libraries we have copies of both books, so now I am going to display them both together, I’m sure that they will fly off the shelves, as The Fault In Our Stars does permanently!
I would like to share the following links with you, in case you’d like to learn more about Esther Earl and John Green:
Esther’s parents have founded a charity of the same name as their book: This Star Won’t Go Out, click on this title to visit their website. The charity does important work in helping to support the families of young cancer sufferers, as well as the children themselves.
To follow John Green on Facebook: click here, twitter: here, tumblr: here and finally on his own website here. John also creates videoblogs together with his brother, Hank, and they are well-worth watching, they’re fun and educational: https://www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers