The girls at my youth group are always reading some sort of young adult novel and obsessing over them alongside their film adaptions.
A year or so ago, the flavour of the month was The Fault in our Stars based on the best-selling book by John Green. The girls at my youth group kept banging on about it for weeks before the upcoming premiere, as they had all read the book and so were very keen to watch the film. I became interested when I heard it was a best-seller, after all, if it got our youth reading for fun rather than for school, I was inclined to read it myself.
What’s all the fuss about?
At this stage, you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s The Fault in our Stars all about?”, and, “Why all the hype?”.
An explanation from the girls from my youth would likely proceed as follows: “It’s about blah blah blah; it’s so super; it’s sad; it’s so great” – a lot of nonsense words and adjectives. Five minutes after a kaleidoscope of confusing comments and interjections later, you would eventually find out that it’s essentially a love story about two teenagers who have terminal cancer that meet at a support group and develop a relationship with each other. It shows the highs and lows of two young lovers who really have to live in the now due to their terminal illness.
It must have looked like a weird scene that weekend when I purchased the book at my local store. I mean, a 6’0” male, currently sporting a beard and wandering in the teen-fiction area searching for this book (ironically, it shouldn’t have been hard to find, as the store had a full display out in the middle). Once I’d started reading, I flew through it and finished it quickly.
Without giving too much away in terms of plot, I could immediately see why the girls at my youth group loved it so much. The male protagonist Augustus Waters always has a clever conversational quip and the banter between him and Hazel Lancaster (the female protagonist) is often heart-warming and funny.
The plot openly deals with cancer and the toll it takes on all those involved, from medical visits, hospital scares and treatment through to recovery and support. The emotions of the characters are strung out well from page to page.
No kidding, the book was great. Sure, I had some laugh-out-loud moments reading on the train but the fault I found was, funnily enough, in one of ‘star’ quotes from the book which reads, “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities”. This line struck me as different due to the fact that Augustus openly said the only thing he feared was oblivion. The fact, however, is that normal human existence means we only have a finite time here on Earth, and an infinite time only after we ‘move on’ through death. So, though the book does have contain Christian values and lessons (the author himself is a Christian), they are very subtle.
No fear of what’s next
The fear of oblivion by death is one that has filled the minds of humans for centuries. We ask ourselves: “What happens next?” As Christians, we know that when we die we are simply reborn with Christ in heaven and spend eternity with him. The opposite of that is an eternity of separation from Christ spent in Hell.
At the end of the day it comes down to a decision, the bigger infinity of life in Heaven, or the smaller infinity that is our 80 years of life? For some in my youth group, the ‘here and now’ seems more important. I hope the book The Fault in our Stars shows them that it is important to remember we are not immortal, but mortal.
Teenage years can very easily be thrown upside down due to circumstance. Sure, make the most of today, but don’t ever forget the bigger infinity that awaits you.
Christopher Archibald lives in Sydney and is a Youth Leader at New Life Christian Church in Blacktown. A voracious reader, he ploughs through many books in a calendar year, with a bookcase that is constantly being rearranged to accommodate new additions.
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