The joy of life in the midst of death





A brilliant, brilliant book from a master story teller. The three main characters in this novel are all teenagers and all have cancer: one has lost an eye (and looks set to lose his other eye), one has lost part of a leg (after a “touch” of osteosarcoma) and one has to wheel an oxygen tank with her wherever she goes. They share not only an insider’s knowledge of cancer and its treatment but also a sardonic response to their situation. Their conversations about life, death and dying are sprinkled with witty, humorous asides and observations.

And here lies the brilliance of the novel: the finely tuned balance between light and shade, between the humorous dialogue and the pain it hides, between the hope and the honesty with which these teens live their lives. For whilst the novel is about dying and how we face death, it is also very much about life and how one can live with joy despite the looming shadow of death. Augustus fears oblivion; he wants to leave his mark on the world. On the other hand, Hazel is more worried about the impact of her death on those loved ones she will leave behind. Neither of them plan to complicate their lives by falling in love and neither of them quite expect what is to follow.

Whilst Green does not shy away from the awful realities of treatment and the pain involved in a terminal illness, he nevertheless manages to imbue the story with a sense of warmth. Readers may occasionally need to reach for the tissues but this is just as likely to be so they can wipe away tears of joy as tears of sadness.

A book that will open readers’ eyes and hearts and provide a new regard for both the power and the pain of loving, of living and of dying.

Check our John Green’s website to learn more about this book. There is an interesting thread from teens and others about battling cancer on his Nerdfighter’s ning here.

You might also want to watch some of John Green’s vlogs on this book – here is one to sample (look for others on his website):


It is no surprise that this novel is the SILVER INKY winner for 2012!!

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

If you enjoyed this novel, you might also like to read “The Shiny Guys” by Doug MacLeod (reviewed here) or one of John Greens earlier novels: “Will Grayson WillGrayson” reviewed here, “Paper Towns” reviewed here, and Looking for Alaska reviewed here.

Lili luncheon

Lili Wilkinson came to visit us for lunch in August and we had a great time. She answered all our questions and told us about her writing experiences. Lili had lots of tips for writers eg when she gets stuck, she thinks of 15 things that could happen next – one of them is sure to get her writing again. She also uses a tool called “Scrivener” to help when she is writing her books. One of her books that she really likes is “The not quite perfect boyfirend” and another is “Pink” both of which are favourites of Book Clubbers, too.

Lili was popular with Book Clubbers
Lili was popular with Book Clubbers

Alice Pung

What I learned about Alice Pung from her talk:
Alice was really funny and I enjoyed her talk alot. I learnt alot about her heritage and what happened in Columbia.

What I liked about her book:
From the things that she read fromher book I liked her humor.

What I would like to ask her:
Can I have you autograph?? (which I did =) )


By Nazzy  DSCF2872

Alice Pung excites her audience

DSCF2868Today was a great day out at the local library with our Book Club. Alice Pung was the visiting author who we went to see. I liked that she was honest about everything. I liked her book “Unpolished Gem” because it was true and she was brave.  Michelle


We went to our local library today. We had Maccas for lunch. I liked hearing Alice Pung. I enjoyed the way she wrote her book “Unpolished Gem” and how it was totally true. I learnt that her family came from a very distorted third world country and they went through hardship. LK


Today we went with book Club to the public library to see Alice Pung and she was great. She was very truthful about her life. I Learned from reading parts of her book that it would be hard living in a different country. I liked that her book was about her life. EM

DSCF2870When we listened to Alice Pung today we learned that she has a funny dad and a snot sucking Grandmother (she did this when Alice’s baby brother had a cold, so he could still drink). Alice also told us that Cambodia had its hard times. There is some good humour in her book and it is all true and realistic.  Lauren