Part of the reason I didn’t date in high school is that I wanted the kind of 17-year-old boy who appears in YA books: sensitive, kind, and desiring of a committed adult relationship. But even teenage me knew the truth: no 17-year-old boy is ready for an adult relationship. (Or 17-year-old girl, for that matter. I certainly wouldn’t have known what to actually do with one if I came across it at that age.) However, Augustus Waters, the love interest in JohnGreen’s The Fault in Our Stars, is ready for that kind of love because he has to be. He’s a 17 year old with cancer; if not now, there may be no when.
Hazel, the protagonist, initially resists the love that Augustus offers and that she secretly reciprocates. Hazel also has cancer, and even though Augustus is the most wonderful boy she has ever met, she knows that getting involved with him will mean inevitably breaking his heart when she dies.
Ultimately, Hazel’s relationship with Augustus forces her to interact with the world again, which she had been trying to avoid doing, and she helps him to recognize that although his impact on the world may be on a smaller scale than he hoped, the effect he has had on her is infinitely important.
Hazel and Augustus are bright, angry, and, as a result, in a constant and passionate wrestling match with their mortality. Their dialogue is so wonderful to read that you wish you could jump in and join their hilarious and meaningful conversations, but you know that you would never be able to keep up.