The Fault in Our Stars: Fictionalizing the Realities of Childhood Cancer

“The Fault in Our Stars: Fictionalizing the Realities of Childhood Cancer” By Tricia Paul, Investigating Illness Narratives.

“This is not so much an author’s note as an author’s reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up.”

–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

The author’s note quoted above is one of my favorite pages in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. When I first heard about The Fault in Our Stars, a book about childhood cancer that was also soon-to-be a movie, my initial reactions were as follows. Surprise, that the often hidden world of childhood cancer was being so prominently featured in a bestseller. Wariness, that this book which was quickly becoming a sensation itself would similarly sensationalize the lives of those with childhood cancer. Reading the Author’s Note both confirmed and calmed my fears. I applauded Green’s straightforward commitment to the fictionality of the novel, for it cautions the reader not to use this story to make assumptions about childhood cancer. At the same time, it made me curious about his choice to use cancer as an intriguing literary device and how he would portray this reality, however fictionalized. I was impressed by the power of Green’s language. The adolescent perspective, at times cynical and abrasively honest, allows him to successfully make real this foreign world of cancer.

This was one of the first times where I preferred the movie adaptation to the book. To me, the witty dialogue and the comic relief interspersed amongst heartfelt emotion really came to life through the camera in a way that I didn’t quite feel when reading the book.

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