Tag Archives: cancer

Student Review: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (reviewed by Ariella R.)

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interested about young love? Some sad and touching moments? This book is for you. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is about a girl named Hazel, who is a cancer patient, and her struggle with illness. She’s had cancer since a young age, and her parents thought it would be good for her to go to counseling groups. At the group, she meets a boy named Augustus Waters, who dealt with leg surgery shortly before. The two begin talking and soon become very close with each other. They start dating and trading their favorite things such as books. They both read the same book and travel to meet the author of Hazel’s favorite book.The part I liked a lot was when Hazel wasn’t self-confident about herself but Augustus proved her wrong: “‘I’m in love with you, I am.’ He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. ‘I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.’” This is my favorite quote because Hazel thinks that Augustus doesn’t really like her, but he tells her he does in this long message. It sends out a positive message and makes her feel good about herself. Green makes this sound really real and relatable, because there are relationships in our world where the couple isn’t perfect. I would recommend The Fault In our Stars because it’s interesting and well written for young adults. ~ Student: Ariella R.

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Student Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime, by Josh Sundquist (reviewed by Ada K.)

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a true storyWe Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a true story by Josh Sundquist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you having trouble with your love life? Well, in Josh Sundquist’s autobiography We Should Hang out Sometime, you might find out how to save your love life. We Should Hang Out Sometime is a book about the life of a cancer survivor and his experience with love. Josh Sundquist is about 10 years old when he gets cancer, and fortunately he survives. On the other hand, he has to get his leg amputated, which makes him different from every other child. Josh has always been home schooled by his parents because they were afraid that Josh’s missing leg would make kids laugh at him and think of him differently from everyone else. But when he starts public school, he begins to get interested in girls. When Josh eventually gets the chance to ask out a girl, it doesn’t turn out the way he expected it to, and he tells us that “Sarah and I “went out” for twenty-three hours” (41 Sundquist). Relationships tend to either last for a lifetime, or a couple of months, but usually not 23 hours, so Josh had a pretty bad start. This book is a great read for people who enjoy romance and cheesy love stories, but at the same time, it is heartbreakingly hilarious. ~ Student: Ada K.

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The Language Inside, by Holly Thompson

The Language InsideThe Language Inside by Holly Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am slowly being converted to stories told in verse by authors like Holly Thompson and Ellen Hopkins. They use this expressive medium to take the reader inside the minds and emotions of the narrator in ways that prose can never quite achieve. I say this as a very reluctant reader of poetry, so don’t rule this book out if you don’t think you like poetry. It’s a novel, just written a simple and beautiful form. 16 year-old Emma is technically American, but has been raised from birth in Japan and is culturally Japanese, despite her Caucasian appearance. In a tragic confluence of events, the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 strikes and devastates neighboring communities and Emma’s friends’ families at the same time as Emma’s mother is diagnosed with breast cancer that requires treatment in the United States. Emma is torn from her friends and her country just when they need her most, but is forced to quell her misery in order to stay strong for her mother who also needs Emma most. She moves with her family to her grandparents’ home outside of Lowell, MA where Emma enrolls in high school and struggles to fit in, biding time until she can return home to Japan. Slowly, Emma engages with her community by joining the school dance troupe, volunteering to help a stroke victim write poetry at a local rehabilitation center, and befriending Samnamg, a handsome second generation Cambodian immigrant who also volunteers at the center. Just when Emma and Samnang are on the verge of Emma’s first real romantic relationship, Emma’s parents offer her the opportunity to return to Japan with her father while her mother stays in Massachusetts for many more months of recuperation. Should she go? Read this book to learn more about the 2011 tsunami, Pol Pot’s genocidal regime in Cambodia, breast cancer treatment, traditional Cambodian and Japanese dance, and of course whether Emma leaves Samnang to return home to Japan. ~ Ms. Dimmick

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Noggin by John Corey Whaley

NogginNoggin by John Corey Whaley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Noggin starts out with a crazy sci-fi premise: Travis Coates, a 16-year-old boy dying of cancer, has his head cut off and frozen in the hopes that one day, there will be a cure. Most people think this was just his way out of, but it actually happens, and Travis comes back – his head attached to a new (taller and stronger!) body.

While for Travis, it’s only been a long nap since he last saw his friends and family, for them it’s been five years, and they have to adjust from mourning Travis to celebrating the “miracle.” And while Travis’ birth certificate might say he’s 21, he’s still a high school student, only now he doesn’t know anyone in his class. Some things haven’t changed – he has to retake his math class for one. But other things will never be the same. His father is never home, working crazy hours that may be a cover for something else. His best friend, who shared his deepest secret when he thought Travis was dying, is now wishing that secret had stayed dead. And his girlfriend Cate, whom Travis truly loved, has fallen in love – and gotten engaged – to someone new.

While the premise is pure science fiction, this story is really about a regular boy in a regular high school, and how he copes with love and loss. It’s authentic and funny and made me cry, and I’m eagerly waiting to see what Whaley comes up with next.

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Student Review: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (reviewed by Miranda M.)

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever felt as if no one understood you and there was nothing you could do to change that? No one has complete control over his or her own life, especially those who must battle illness. Not many teenagers are faced with terminal illnesses, but in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Hazel Grace is diagnosed at a young age with cancer. John Green takes the readers on a journey through the life of this teenage girl by allowing the readers to fall in love with the characters and feel as if they are stumbling through life with her. Over the course of the book, the reader is able to better distinguish between the lives of a healthy person versus a sick person. Furthermore, through the development of Hazel’s relationship with Augustus Waters, we are able to understand how love is the only aspect of life that allows oneself to break free from internal struggles. In this novel, Hazel fears that expressing her love is dangerous. Hazel is caught in a predicament when she realizes that she is “a grenade and at some point [she is] going to blow up and [she] would like to minimize the casualties” (99). A very difficult decision arises as love is set against illness. Although it may be difficult to comprehend the challenges Hazel faces because of the reader’s lack of experience being with an ill teenager, Green makes it easy for the reader to sympathies with the characters. In my opinion, this tearjerker, page-turner book is a must read. ~ Student: Miranda M.

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Student Review: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (reviewed by Meghanlata G.)

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What is harder to deal with: dying from cancer or watching a loved one die from it? In John Green’s book The Fault In Our Stars, I fell in love with a magnificent story of two star-crossed lovers on their journey to survive a fatal illness while exploring the almost equally dangerous roller coaster of love.

16-year-old Hazel Lancaster, suffering from thyroid cancer, is reluctant to go to a cancer support group. With her mother’s prodding, Hazel goes to the group and meets a charming boy named Augustus, who is in remission from bone cancer. As they become friends, and soon lovers, John Green turns the simple theme of love into a unique theme: the stinging impact of love’s ill-fated destiny. John Green’s voice is portrayed in the personalities of the Hazel and Gus. Hazel, shy and somewhat of a recluse, says ” I rarely left the house…and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death” (1). Gus is more outgoing, admitting to Hazel “Trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affections for you” (55). Contrary to other author’s continuous positive voices and characters, Green’s characters show a whole range of emotions. I found the two characters likeable and believable, catapulted into their small Indiana town as I read. I fully recommend this book to middle school and high school students. With equal amounts of sadness and comedy, John Green captures an image of true love and its many colors. ~ Student: Meghanlata G.

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The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hazel has terminal cancer that is currently being kept at bay by a drug that can’t cure her, but can grant an undefined amount of time as a sick, but not yet dying teen. Because of her illness she missed the last several years of school, and finished high school early, at home. Her world revolves around her cancer, and to protect others from the grenade she has become, she lives a fairly reclusive life. To please her parents, she joins a teen cancer support group, where she meets Isaac, who has eye cancer, and more importantly, she meets his gorgeous friend Augustus Waters, who lost his leg to cancer but is otherwise cancer-free. Augustus is immediately attracted to Hazel, who is nonplussed by the attraction, but intrigued enough to follow his lead. A tentative relationship is forged, and strengthened further by mutual obsession with a book about another child with cancer. In that book, which Hazel recommends to Augustus, the protagonist dies, mid-sentence in the last line. Hazel and Augustus hunger for more—what happens to the other characters in the book? How do they move on after the child’s death? Hazel and Augustus embark on a quest together to hunt down the author and get these answers. This quest provides a welcome distraction from their cancer, and prods the two into a deeper relationship than Hazel had planned. The story is told with typical John Green flair: lots of witty banter; provocative ideas; complex characters; plot twists and an uncanny ability to see deep into the souls of his characters—and his readers. If you liked Green’s Looking for Alaska, you’ll love The Fault in Our Stars.–Ms Dimmick

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Here’s a song inspired by the book

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A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know when I last cried so hard. As I closed the book I found myself wracked with hot, choking sobs. Rarely have I read such masterful, profound, and poignant prose. Conor suffers from a recurring nightmare, which arrived around the same time as his mother’s cancer diagnosis, but long after Conor’s father left England for America and started a new family. Such adversity would be enough to give any thirteen year-old nightmares, and poor Conor’s days aren’t much better than his nights. First, Conor’s life-long friend Lily told everyone at school about his mother. Now they all treat him like a leper; as if they might catch his misfortune if they stand too close. Then his steely grandmother arrives to “help” while his mother undergoes increasingly debilitating treatments. Finally, the ancient Yew tree in Conor’s back garden comes walking, nightly at 12:07, to torture Conor with its stories. But Conor isn’t afraid of this monster, who recognizes that “you have worse things to be frightened of.” Perhaps the monster has come to help? Aren’t there promising cancer drugs derived from Yews? Conor awakes after each visit and story convinced that the monster is just another nightmare (not nearly as terrifying as the original), when physical evidence of its visit is revealed: “short, spiky Yew tree leaves” carpet his bedroom floor, or “From a knot in a floorboard, a fresh, new and very solid sapling had sprouted, about a foot tall.” Conor begins to anticipate the monster’s visits, and its disturbing stories, with hope. This tale of a young teen confronting unimaginable demons might look like something for middle-grade readers, but I challenge any adult to resist its pull. Sensitively told and hauntingly illustrated, this story will stay with me for a very long time.

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