I read The Fault in Our Stars this weekend, primarily from about 5.30-7.30 A.M. on Saturday morning while Abby was still sleeping, for once in her life. I did cry a lot thinking about what it would be like to have my child die of cancer, but it mostly irritated me, probably because I could see that I would have been its target audience about fifteen to twenty years ago, when, like the kids in the book, I was convinced I was smarter and savvier than the adults around me.
Aside from the ridiculously tone-deaf dialogue, here’s my major gripe: neither of the main characters have siblings. Not a big deal? Narratively, a very big deal: giving a couple of cancer-ridden teenagers siblings would be to admit that, just maybe, someone else might love them more, know them better, and have more claim on their final days or weeks than the teenager who’s known them for all of a few months.
There’s a moment when–spoiler alert, but you know how this ends, right?–Augustus is dying, and his grown half-sisters show up to fawn over him. Hazel gets all mentally snippy about them calling him “our” Gus as though they’ve taken possession of him, but COME ON HAZEL. Just because they’re grown-ups doesn’t mean they don’t know how to love–and if Augustus had siblings living at home, we might have to accept that their grief would overshadow hers.