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on September 5, 2016
I'm not usually one for young adult fiction, but this book absolutely fantastic. It reaches deep inside of me. It’s a story of a quiet tragedy, love, and an undeniable reality. Hazel and Augustus face mortality and so many of the meaningless details of life. It forces them to face who they really truly are. How would they carry on... Terminal disease gives you fear, for yourself, for your loved ones. It causes pain that you are the reason to make your family feel worried and cry at night. Green wrote this sad, tragic, yet beautiful story, it brings tears to my eyes.
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on January 10, 2012
I've read a lot of books, but this is one of my all time favorites; that's not something I can say about very many books. I'll make it simple; I'm a fifteen year old teenage boy. When I usually read a book, I toss it aside and move on to the next one. And, like most teenage boys, I am not very emotional. At the end of this book, I cried. Not just a few tears either; I was full on bawling my eyes out. That's how good this book is. I promise you, unless you have a heart of stone, you will love this book.
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Although his brother Hank might argue that the real "fault in our stars" is that our sun contains limited amounts of hydrogen, which will cause it to eventually run out of the only fuel source capable of supporting its mass against gravity, thereby expanding until its outer shell envelops our tiny planet and consumes it in a fiery death, I think it is more likely that John Green's title refers to a line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

"The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings." Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

What does this quote mean and how does it relate to a novel about two kids dying of cancer? I'll explore that below.

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of two 16-year-olds who meet at a cancer support group. Hazel Lancaster, the narrator, is afflicted with terminal thyroid cancer which has ravaged her lungs enough to necessitate the use of an oxygen tank wherever she goes. It is during a support meeting that she is introduced to Augustus Waters, whose leg was claimed by a malignant bone tumor and who soon becomes the object of her affection.

When I learned of the plot of this novel, I was initially a bit turned off. I'm reminded of a comment a friend made when I asked her if she wanted to go see the movie 50/50, upon which she exclaimed "who wants to go see a movie about people dying of cancer?" I couldn't come up with a satisfactory response, and we settled for a two-hour movie about the competitive world of robot fighting (which still caused me to shed a tear). So why would anyone, especially young adults, want to read about "cancer kids?" As Hazel herself states in the novel, "cancer books suck." But "The Fault in Our Stars" isn't about cancer, and it's not about death. Cancer is an important subject in the book, but it's not nearly as important as the characters. The disease is mainly used as a vehicle for moving along the development of Hazel and Augustus. In the absence of teen wizards, dystopian death races, and swooning vampire/werewolf feuds, it allows us to view the protagonists in a more complex setting than the traditional high school drama. It also forces the characters to grow up much faster than they should, which I think is important for Green's audience as well as his needs as a writer. The "young adult" label should not be cause for dismissal to older audiences. As equally evident in his previous novels, Green's writing is not dumbed-down in an attempt to cater to a misguided adult notion of the intelligence of teenagers. While Hazel and Augustus certainly share in the same adolescent interests as many of their peers, their dialogue is written at a level that betrays a deeper level of maturity. Amidst trips to the mall and countless video game sessions, the characters expound on subjects in life that everyone faces. While it might seem strange to hear a 16-year-old use words like "cloying" and "sobriquet," this is par for the course in a John Green novel. And strangely, it works very well (provided you keep a dictionary handy). Even though I initially balked at reading a "young adult" title (I'm well into adulthood), I realized that just because a book is marketed toward adolescents, doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed by those outside that niche. I'm hesitant to make the comparison, but "The Fault in our Stars" bridges the age gap in the same vein as Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. It contains content and themes thoroughly relatable to a young audience, while being presented in a way that adults will appreciate.

Green's characters always come off a bit stiff to me and start off sounding like pretentious jerks who are trying too hard to grow up, but I always warm up to them and end up relating to them by the middle of the novel. Gus was no exception. However my opinion of him changed as early as chapter 2, and I knew as soon as I heard him have a conversation with Hazel about their counselor's incorrect usage of the word "literally" (a fact that had literally been bothering me since it was mentioned in the first chapter) that I knew we could be friends. The likeability factor of these characters is one of the reasons the rest of the story can be so heartbreaking to follow at times. Even though I was fully aware from the beginning that Hazel's condition is terminal, she doesn't behave in a way that constantly reminds me of that fact. Instead, her sarcastic wit and outlook on life draw me to her as someone I could easily be friends with (if only there wasn't that problem of her being a fictional character). From very early on, I'm sucked into an emotional attachment to the characters in the story that made it very difficult to actually put the book down (and one of the reasons I will probably read it several more times). Returning to the titular quote above, although it is fully explained in the novel, I think the line from Julius Caesar is also appropriate as a title because Hazel does not let her ultimate fate determine the course of her life.

I thought Green's last two solo books, Katherines and Paper Towns, were pretty good, but they didn't capture that sense of awe I felt after finishing his first novel. And again, I think that's because I've seen such a huge change over the years in Green's ability to connect his characters to the reader. The Fault in our Stars returns me to that era and I'm reminded of just how good of a writer he is. I do not know if it will win the same Young Adult Fiction awards Alaska received, but I do know it will be regarded by myself and many more as one of, if not his best work to date. Regardless of their literary interests, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of great writing and character-driven stories.

It should also be mentioned that Green personally signed all 150,000 copies of the first printing of this novel. So if you are buying it soon after release, your copy will almost certainly be autographed.

John Green's other novels include:

Looking for Alaska (2005)
An Abundance of Katherines (2006)
Paper Towns (2008)
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances (coauthored - 2010)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson (coauthored - 2010)

DFTBA
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on January 13, 2012
Reading this book will possibly be one of the most masochistic things that you will ever do. This is because it is going to cause you real, visceral pain. You are going to cry. I say this as someone who never, ever cries at books, and yet this book brought me to tears. I don't know if I will ever be able to reread this, because it affected me so deeply the first time around that I don't know if I could handle another time. I think the closer you are to the issues in the book, the more it it is going to make you feel. This might be the only place that I would say to exercise caution, because this is not a book where all the problems and sadness are neatly wrapped up by the end. It ends on an incredibly satisfying note, but it is not a happy ending, and so if your life has been closely impacted by cancer at some point then this book might be a little too close to the issue, if this book had come out a couple of years ago I think I might not have been able to read it.

It's not all sadness, though. It also made me laugh out loud, and I got so incredibly invested in the characters that their futures were, for a brief time, intertwined with my own. I cared about what happened to them, on a level that most books can only hope to achieve. The prose is beautiful and incredibly intelligent, like John's other books you feel like you're learning something every time you turn the page. The characters are so witty and wonderful that I wish they really existed in my life.

I was a little bit wary going in, because of all the hype and the way the Nerdfighter community tends to place John's books on such a high pestle that it's amazing he can continuously top the previous ones. This one lives up to everything, though. I think it's his best one yet, because at the heart of everything it made me feel something, and that quality is one that not many other books have been able to attain. I feel emotionally tired after reading it, and it almost seems like it made me a better person on some level.

This book is going to change you. It's breathtaking and heartbreaking and desperately witty, all at the same time, and you should definitely read it. You'll come out of it a different person than when you started it.
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on July 25, 2016
The best stories are about memory.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is quite possibly the best standalone novel I have ever read and is certainly the most phenomenal book I’ve had the privilege to experience in the year 2013. It is my third favorite story and favorite non-fantasy novel. The title comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and it sets the perfect tone for this story written in the first person by Hazel, a sixteen year old girl in the regressive stage of lung cancer who nevertheless is required to cart around an oxygen tank because (as she so perfectly puts it) her “lungs suck at being lungs.” Her mother forces her to go to a cancer patient/survivor group where she proceeds to exercise her considerable teenage snark and wit along with her friend Isaac who is suffering from a type of cancer that eventually requires the removal of an eye.

One day Hazel catches the attention of a boy named Augustus and their romance is as breathtaking and expedient as it is completely genuine and uncontrived. Augustus has recovered from bone cancer that left him with a prosthetic leg, but did nothing to diminish his spirit. She can scarcely believe he’s as perfect as he projects and indeed feels as though she’s found his hamartia or fatal flaw when he puts a cigarette in his mouth. Hazel is of course livid that anyone who survived cancer would willingly place themselves into its way again, but Augustus never lights them using the act as a metaphor of having “the killing thing right between your teeth, but you not giving it the power to do its killing.”

Both of them together have enough wit and snark to drown the world in metaphors and sarcasm with just the barest dash of bitterness for their plight. Hazel whom Augustus calls “Hazel Grace” for most of the novel feels incredibly guilty that she’s allowed Augustus to fall for her as she and her family expect her cancer to return full force at any moment, and yet their relationship parallels the ever moving train of her mortality. So much so that Hazel shares with him that her favorite book is a story by the reclusive author Peter Van Houten called An Imperial Affliction.

“My favorite book, by a wide margin, was An Imperial Affliction, but I didn’t like to tell people about it. Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising that affections feels like a betrayal.”

Van Houten’s work is very meta to the larger story at hand being about a girl named Anna who suffers from cancer and her one-eyed mother who grows tulips. But Hazel makes it very clear that this is not a cancer book in the same way that The Fault in Our Stars is not a cancer book. Anna grows progressively sicker and her mother falls in love with a Dutch Tulip Man who has a great deal of money and exotic ideas about how to treat Anna’s cancer, but just when the DTM and Anna’s mom are about to possibly get married and Anna is about to start a new treatment, the book ends right in the middle of a-

Exactly.

This drives Hazel and eventually Augustus up the wall to not know what happened to everyone from Anna’s hamster Sisyphus to Anna herself. Hazel assumes that Anna became too sick to continue writing (the assumption being that her story was first person just as Hazel’s is), but for Van Houten to not have finished it seems like the ultimate literary betrayal.

As terrified as Hazel was to share this joy with Augustus (and god knows I understand that feeling) it was the best thing she could’ve done because they now share the obsession and the insistence that the characters deserve an ending.

The conversations of Hazel and Augustus are not typical teenage conversations, but they’re not typical teenagers. Mortality flavors all of their discussions and leads to elegance such as

“The tales of our exploits will survive as long as the human voice itself. And even after that, when the robots recall the human absurdities of sacrifice and compassion, they will remember us.”

They speak of memory and calculate how there are fourteen dead people for everyone alive and realize that remembering fourteen people isn’t that difficult. We could all do that if we tried that way no one has to be forgotten. But will we then fight over who we are allowed to remember? Or will the fourteen just be added to those we can never forget? They read each other the poetry of T.S Eliot, the haunting lines of Prufrock,

“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Til human voices wake us, and we drown.”

And as Augustus reads Hazel her favorite book she

“…fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

The quotes from this story are among the most poignant and beautiful I have ever seen.

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”

When I finished this I thought to myself, “How am I going to read anything else? How will I find something to match this? How can I pick up another book and not expect it to resonate with this haunting beauty, this tragedy ringed with comic teenage snark and tones that are themselves tragic in their sarcasm like whistling in the ninth circle of hell or laughing uproariously at the monster?” I realized I was lost. I could think of no negative critique unless you count the fact that the two main characters have Dawson’s Creek Syndrome where they’re teenagers who speak as if they were philosophers, but then again Bill Watterson did the same thing with a boy and a stuffed tiger.

You realize the story’s hamartia doesn’t matter. That the fact that the plot may be cliched is unimportant and that dwelling on such trivialities is in and of itself a fatal flaw. This story is so much more than the letters and words on each page. It’s the triumph of morning over night when the night grows ever longer. It’s the dream of hope when you’ve done nothing but dine on despair. It is sad? Yes. It is heartbreaking? More so. Is it worth reading? Has anything sad and heartbreaking not been worth reading? The story of Hazel and Augusts deserves to be read just as the story of Anna, her mother, and dear hamster Sisyphus deserves an ending, and that becomes their exploit to seek out reclusive Peter Van Houten so that the characters can be properly laid to rest and remembered.

The best stories are about memory.
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on April 3, 2017
About half of what I read is everything from nonfiction to westerns to overly emotional stories like The Fault In Our Stars, which I read because I’m interested in what the masses are reading. The other half of what I read is sci-fi and fantasy.

The Fault in Our Stars is told first person past tense from Hazel’s point of view. The story changes from being about Hazel dying at the beginning to being about Gus dying. If this isn’t a morbid story, how come I felt sad at the end? Am I supposed to feel happy that Gus died? Would I have felt better if Hazel had died instead of Gus?

“His voice was low, smoky, and dead sexy.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or barf at that line. “Delicious. The champagne is delicious. The waiter has a delicious accent. Deliciousness.” (page 163) “The beautiful couple is beautiful.” (page 165). I found the constantly crying dad irritating. I never warmed up to the protagonist, Hazel, either. By page 239 my lack of empathy for her had turned into outright loathing.

I counted too many inconsistencies in the story to go into. Of hugely popular series only Divergent and Fifty Shades of Grey rank as low in my book as The Fault in Our Stars.

I read the first books, but I haven’t seen any of the movies or TV series from the following book series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Twilight, Outlander, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Long Earth, Divergent, etc. I sample a lot of first books, but I don’t read many complete series. (Who has that much time?) The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and The Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series by George Martin are a couple of exceptions. I’ve read both of those series more than once.

Sci-fi and fantasy authors I like include Douglas Adams, Taylor Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ray Bradbury, Jack Campbell, Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Earnest Cline, Suzanne Collins, Abe Evergreen, William R. Forstchen, Joe Haldeman, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Hugh Howey, George Martin, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, George Orwell, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, John Steakley, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Andy Weir.

Starship Troopers (1959) (not like the movie) by Robert A. Heinlein is the book that got me started in sci-fi adventures, and has remained one of my top five favorite military science fiction adventure stories for decades. The Forever War (1974) by Joe Haldeman, Armor (1984) by John Steakley, Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card, and Old Man’s War (2005) by John Scalzi, round out my top five military sci-fi adventure stories.
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on November 14, 2015
Why do any of us ever stop reading Young Adult (YA) novels? When my 13-year old daughter made me promise to read The Fault in Our Stars, I shrugged, agreed, and threw it on the pile with all the other books I have promised to read, knowing it would be a while given that my have to list numbers in the double dozens. She kept after me though, and her relentlessness paid off. The Fault in our Stars by John Green, a lovely piece of literature, posing as a YA novel and named Time’s Best Fiction book of 2012 (where’ve I been?), is loaded with rich and fertile subject matter akin to great literary works. Yet while epic life and death themes wax and wane throughout, TFioS retains all those things sacred to teens like swaggy dialogue and biting wit along with the occasional teen tantrum. Result? Texture and comedic relief temper the grand emotions sweeping through this book like so many divergent currents. Hazel Grace Lancaster is dying. She’s been the cancer kid for a few years now, always on the verge of checking out since her lungs seem uninterested in doing the single job to which they have been assigned: providing air to the rest of her body. In Hazel’s world, everyone she meets suffers from some Herculean illness so her life seems not so bad, considering. At a Support Group meeting in the Literal Heart of Jesus (you’ll see), she meets hunky Augustus Waters and his friend Isaac. Augustus has a touch of cancer himself, but is currently NEC (no evidence of cancer). One thing leads to another and then, badda-bing, badda-bang, Hazel and Augustus are hanging out. I can’t say dating because Hazel holds back, knowing she’s going to die soon, and not wanting to bring anyone else down with her; she’s already suffering tremendously over the fact that her pit crew -- mom and dad -- will be out of a parenting job once Hazel’s checked out. Augustus, clever, hot Augustus doesn’t take no for an answer and wins Hazel over with a variety of his many charms and abilities, the most important being making contact with Hazel’s favorite author, Peter Van Houten, who wrote her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction. Hazel’s own life seems inextricably interwoven with AIA and she is determined to find out the fate of the characters after the heroine dies, leaving the book in mid-sentence, and the rest of the characters to an unwritten fate. Hazel has written to Van Houten repeatedly, practically begging for answers. Knowing may help disentangle some of her tightly strung parts, or maybe she just wants to know for the sake of knowing. But Van Houten’s not talking until Augustus emails Van Houten’s assistant and receives a response. Perhaps because of his touch of cancer, Augustus is one of those rare teens who asks the hard questions such as what does oblivion feel like and how can I avoid it? He realizes what so many of us go to great lengths to avoid -- the knowledge that all life is loss, since even the most fabulous ones end in death and oblivion, so get used to it. The pair travel to Amsterdam using Augustus’s long-unused “wish” (despite his view that “life is not a wish-granting factory”) to meet Van Houten who turns out to be a prick of the highest caliber. It all works out in the end if you consider death a method of working it out. The book is sad, but never mopey and triumphant in a, “yes, oblivion is still waiting around the corner, but deal with it,” kind of way, which is okay, because what I hear Green saying is that even in death there are tremendous amounts of life at stake. Books like TFioS hold the key to the silly, unnerving, unrelenting and magnificent universe without even knowing it, reminding me how I felt as a kid: idealistic and invincible with all the answers. Reading it will bring back all those important, self-aware notions you thought you’d left behind years ago, and give you a fresh clear lens with which to look at them. Oh, and it will help you not forget to be awesome.
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My 14 year-old granddaughter recommended this book to me and at first I was a little leery of reading a young adult book. However, within the first ten pages I was hooked - complete hook, line, and sinker. I could think of nothing else but reading this book. I am on a cruise now and none of the activities could keep my mind off this book - it is that good.

Hazel Grace is a teenager with metastasized thyroid cancer with metastasis in her lungs. She must use an oxygen tank all day and a BiPAP machine all night. Augustus Waters has Osteosarcoma and has just had a leg amputated. They meet in a cancer support group and he falls for Hazel at first sight. At first, Hazel keeps her distance from Gus, but it doesn't take her long to fall under his spell. He is, after all, a hunk.

The both of them are enamored of a book called An Imperial Infliction written by one Peter Houten. The book is about a teenager with cancer. It ends with a cliff hanger and they really want to know what happens after the puzzling ending. Augustus uses his one wish wish with the Genies Foundation to ask for a trip to Amsterdam where Mr. Houten resides. Miraculously, he gets his wish. Unfortunately, the meeting with Mr. Houten is less than ideal. Fortunately, the trip serves to increase the love and intimacy between Gus and Hazel.

Grace and Gus are both very intelligent and philosophical people. As Hazel says about Gus, "To be with him was to hurt him - inevitably." His last girlfriend died from a brain tumor and Grace is fearful that she will die and leave Gus in spiritual pain. Hazel is always breathless because of the mets in her lungs. She is in constant pain as well. If she doesn't use her oxygen, " after about ten seconds, my lungs feel like they're folding in upon themselves like flowers at dusk.: She must have her lungs drained frequently. "The pain was always there, pulling me inside myself, demanding to be felt."

Hazel feels outside the realm of ordinary people, the world of the well. As she says, "The physical evidence of disease separates you from other people. We are irreconcilable other." Gus is not obviously ill on the outside but Hazel carries around her oxygen tank everywhere she goes. Since her illness she'd never considered a normal lifespan. "I'd never been anything but terminal; all my treatment had been in pursuit of extending my life, not curing my cancer." Gus has an 85% cure rate after his leg amputation but, like most survivors of cancer, lives in constant fear of a recurrence. As Hazel says, "My final chapter was written upon diagnosis. Gus, like most cancer survivors, lived with uncertainty." Hazel sees herself as a 'grenade'. Once she explodes with her cancer, all those around her will be harmed.

One might think that a novel about two teenagers with cancer would be depressing. This is not the case with this book. Yes, it is powerful, has its sad and poignant moments, but it is uplifting and wonderfully life affirming. It is an amazing book, one that is for everyone. I am so glad that I read it. I will remember it always.
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on August 22, 2016
This is, like the title says, the best book. Sure it had some profanity and being only 12 this was the first book that had content like that one part 67% through on page 206 in the hotel. (I really am trying to make this review spoiler free but it is so hard) this book was a good distraction from what was happening at the time. We had lived in the Midwest for 4 years and, because my dad is militarily, had to move to Hawaii. I had to leave all the friends I had made behind. I knew nobody and nobody knew me. This book was a really good distraction from the sadness of leaving all that you know behind and having to start all over. When I got to the sad part of the book, I was doing some late-night reading. We all shared a hotel room so I tried not to cry. It was hard. On the outside I kept a straight face, but on the inside I was bawling my eyes out. :°)
This was also one of the funniest books I'd ever read. I highlighted everything funny, so when I came beck to the book I can look through the notes and laugh till my chest hurts. The the storyline is pretty good, too.
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on May 28, 2014
My thoughts: Stunningly beautiful, even the second time 'round.

I've read, The Fault In Our Stars, sometime late of last year and remember knowing how the story was going to end. Now, usually I would have shy away from such premise, but have reading other John Green novels, I knew it was impossible. So here it is, my first impressions and thoughts after have reading it again.

My first impression

As I've mentioned, I knew how the story was going to end, as it does with most cancer-based plots. This is the first book, I have picked up and wanted to read and experience the “filling” – Gus and Hazel's relationship developments – part of the story, rather than wishing for an ending of my like. And, I got what I asked for, self-torture (I knew what I was jumping in to, and cried my eyes out!), a beautiful-numbing romance, and the tragic-realistic part of life. It's these kind of books that has you quietly sitting down in your reading nook, and really think about the things you have and how lucky you are to be able to live the simpler part of life … To embrace the simple things in life.

Augustus Waters: brilliant, witty, charming, and plays an important part in Hazel's life. I was immediately charmed by his wit and his personality. (As I am sure most gals have.) People like Gus, really shines and bring the best out of others.

Hazel Grace: just as brilliant, just as witty, and just as charming! Plays an important role in Augustus Water's life. Hazel, was such a passionate character! Actually, they both were. Their little trip to Van Houton's showcased that, and it had to be one of my favorite scenes.

Though the romance was loving, so was the relationships with Gus, Hazel, and their families. You not only are ripped apart by the problems with Gus and Hazel, but also what their parents had to endure. I could not help but paralleling what would have been if I were in the same situation – how devastated my family would be – to their situation. This was most emotionally-wrecking. That's the thing, how real people are able to make that connection with the characters and plot, is what makes The Fault In Our Stars, so haunting ... and scary.

Second Impression:
Just as heart-breaking yet, lovely as the first.

There is a reason The Fault In Our Stars is a hit and a reason why it is most recommend for teens (and those of all ages) … This books inspires and touches, deeply.
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