Happy Friday! If you’re just stopping by and this is the first you have heard of the 52 Reads in 52 Weeks series, please pop on over to the introduction post here. In case you don’t want to hop on over there, here’s the nutshell description: Each Friday I will post my thoughts on the book I read that week, and share what I’ll be reading the following week, and I’m doing this for 52 Weeks. If you missed last week’s review, you can find it here.
No, you didn’t miss a post. The book slated for this week has been temporarily put off until next week. I could have saved this one until next week, but I just couldn’t wait. Given the way this book came about being read, it seemed only fitting to let it take a similar route in being reviewed. Allow me to paint you a picture of the events leading up to this post.
A few weeks ago, my Teen was reading this book for his English class. He read the whole thing, pretty much in one sitting, and then told me I should really read the book. It’s not often my Teen recommends reading material to me, so I hopped on the library website and reserved a copy.
Last week was a hard week around our home. Travis’s grandfather passed away and he made a rush trip east for the funeral. He left early Wednesday morning and arrived home late Thursday night. I stayed up to wait for him to get home, and we talked for a while. I was exhausted when he got home, but by the time it was time to go sleep I’d gotten my second wind, so as you can imagine, Friday was a loooong day for me. We stopped by the library to grab my books on our way to pick up Liam from school and I didn’t even glance at them when we got home. I spent the whole day in a fog, unable to really focus on anything. Because it was a Friday I let Liam stay up later,(like 9 ish instead of 8) because that’s what we do on a Friday, and by the time I got him tucked into bed I was so tired I wanted to cry. (Travis was already asleep because he had to work at 2 am)
Despite being so tired, or maybe because of it, I desperately wanted a cup of tea before bed. You know how when you crawl into bed and then think “Is the front door locked?” and you just know you will not get to sleep unless you check? That’s sort of how I felt about having this cup of tea. So I decided to make the tea and take it up to bed with me. While waiting for the kettle to boil I spied the books we’d picked up from the library. I decided to check one of them out while I was waiting, so I went and sat on the love seat in the family room. I read the synopsis, and flipped through to the author’s note at the beginning, and then, because the kettle wasn’t quite done, thought I would scope out the first few pages …..
….. more than TWO hours later, Travis came downstairs to get ready for work.
Travis: “I thought you would have been in bed by now.”
Me: “I’m just waiting for the kettle so I can make a cup of tea, then I’m heading up there.”
Travis: “I think the kettle is done.” And he goes over to get my tea steeping.
Travis: “The kettle is cold”
Me: “I just turned it on.”
And that my friends is when it all registered. The time, the fact that I was almost half way through a book I had just meant to glance at, the fact that I was reading in the DARK. Oh yes! I didn’t even turn on the light in the family room, I was reading in the semi-darkness by what light filtered in from the kitchen. And I’d been reading like that for hours! Needless to say I went to bed, and then finished the book the next day, because I just couldn’t wait.
It’s been a very long time since a book gripped me that way. It just pulled me in without me realizing it. Normally, when a book does that, it’s a book I’ve been dying to read, or eagerly waiting for, not a book whose description I hadn’t even read before taking it out of the library. And certainly never when I’ve been that tired. The way I read this book, says so much more than words ever could. And now that you’ve read my little story, here’s the review.
Character development in this story was fantastic. You really got to know the characters, got a sense of what made them tick. The story is told from Hazel’s point of view, and follows the development of friendship, and then romance, between her and Augustus. The main characters are teens, and though I’ve heard some people say that they weren’t really portrayed as teenagers, I have to disagree. I think John Green captured a side of teenagers we don’t see often. The “what we appear to be in our own head” vs “what we appear to be to everyone else”. There’s awkwardness and confidence and a whole other blending of feelings and emotions that comes when you’re a teen. I was taken back to that awkward time and that says alot. Considering Mr. Green is not and never has been a teenage girl, I think the fact that he could write such a story from the perspective of one is just mind blowing.
This story has many settings. Homes, churches, hospitals, Amsterdam! Mr. Green did not fail to set the stage well for his characters to shine.
I can’t say too much without giving it all away. This book has all the elements of a coming of age story, except it’s not really one of those. The only term I could come up with was a “coming to” story. The characters are growing and moving towards new destinations, but they’ve already grown up, in many ways, they were old before their time. The story follows the friendship of Hazel and Augustus. It follows them through the ups and downs of falling in love for the first time while dealing with lives that are anything but ordinary.
Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that I enjoy certain books for different reasons. For some, it’s the characters that pull me in and keep me coming back for more. They’re lovable, hate-able, real, and I just want to know what happens to them next. Other stories pull me in with a great plot that starts strong and just keeps on getting better the further you go into the story. And there are some that hit the perfect combination of fabulous characters and gripping plot. These are the books/authors that I save for when I know I have a few hours to spare to read because a few minutes here and there just won’t cut it.
But every once in a while I stumble onto one of those books that doesn’t fit the mold. It is not the characters, it’s not the plot, it’s the way the story is told that carries you along. Story telling is an art that is as old as time. Truly great story tellers can hold you riveted. They make the story come alive; they take ho-hum characters and make them shine, all in how they tell it. John Green tells a wonderful story. This book would have pulled me in with its characters and plot, but how he tells the story, the rhythm, the words, the flow …. they were just beautiful. If you’re looking for a good story to read, this is a book for you.
I tend to like most books I read. It’s not often I go so far as to say this, but if you’re only going to read one book this year, THIS is the book to read! I’m sending out a huge thank you to my Teen who recommended the book, it truly was a great read. And as an added bonus, he and I had a lot to talk about after I read it.
This week I will be reviewing, The Last Romanov, by Dora Levy Mossanen.
Have you ever been sucked in by a book? If so, which one?