I’ve seen this book around and heard teen girls talk about how awesome it is for quite a while now. It made the New York Times Best Seller List and according to Movie ticket seller Fandago, “The Fault in Our Stars” broke the record for the biggest pre-selling love story in the company’s 14-year history.
I admit it. I was curious. Curious as to what teen girls are reading these days. And so I cuddled up on a rainy day on my couch and devoured “The Fault in our Stars” in a day.
Below is a synopsis of the book taken from Common Sense Media. (*Spoiler alert)
“Parents need to know that The Fault in Our Stars is a story about teens fighting cancer, and sensitive readers might be uncomfortable with the subject matter and sometimes graphic descriptions of what it’s like to die. Hazel has some near-death experiences and also copes with Gus as he vomits uncontrollably, etc. Characters lose eyes, legs, control of their personalities, and more. Also, characters play violent video games and read books and watch movies with high body counts. There’s some swearing and drinking, and the two main characters, who are in love, do have (safe) sex, though it’s described only briefly. This is a mature and powerful story: Hazel not only provides teens with insight about what it is like to know you’re dying — and to lose someone you love — but her story is also about deciding to love and be loved, even when you know it will cause pain.”
My thoughts about this book come in the form of a hypothetical letter I’m writing to a group of tween girls in my church that I know and love. And this is what I’d want to say to them if they consider reading this book or other romance novels like it.
Dear Tween and Teen Girls,
There is a book that some of your friends are talking about right now. You probably are fully aware of it. Some girls your age are huge followers of the author, John Green, and his most recent book “The Fault in Our Stars”. They quote lines from the book and get swept off their feet at the truly sweet romance that takes place between two dying teens. It’s a great story. Really it is. There’s humor, romance, friendship and heart throbs throughout the book. I’ll get right to the point, girls. In the book the two main characters, Hazel and Gus, have sex and although it is non descriptive you are brought there in your mind. And in some reader’s minds they might even justify the premarital sex between Hazel and Gus because, after all, they won’t even have a chance to get married before they die. So to experience what is perceived as true love and to culminate it in consensual sex might be okay. But then again it might not be. They’re pretty sure their parents would say No to that idea but now that they think about……if they were in that situation….it might seem okay even though it’s contrary to what they’ve seen and been taught from God’s word. These girls, some of them your Christian friends, wish the strong language and continual use of God’s name in vain wasn’t in the book because they don’t use language like that. Or at least they try not to. They know it’s disrespectful to God and they love God. But the story is just so good that it’s too hard to put down. They decide to ignore the language. And so they read on. At the end of the book they realize they too would love to be held and cherished as Hazel was in the story. Gus did the most romantic thing ever for her. He shared his one and only “make a wish foundation” wish with her and went to extraordinary lengths to give Hazel what she wanted. A true knight in shining armor. It had to be true love – even though they’d only met and had a few months together. And so now your young reader friends are left with a visual and an ideal in their mind that has swept them off their feet. Oh, they know it’s all fiction. Of course there is no real Gus and Hazel hook up although the book was inspired by a girl who had cancer and died in 2010. Your friends have the clear ability to separate fiction from non fiction and to come away from this book still knowing that premarital sex is wrong but there’s a tiny seed planted in their hearts and they wonder what it might like to experience what Hazel did. To be held. To be loved in that way.
Oh girls, don’t fall for this. It’s not healthy for your faith walk. Guard what you read and watch. Fill your mind with better things than this. You may feel left out when you bypass the movie with all your friends or can’t hold a conversation about the book but it will be worth it in the long run. Promise. Our culture is not concerned about what you fill your mind and heart with. They could care less. God has amazing plans for you. Fill your heart and thoughts with pure things so that He can keep doing his amazing work inside of you. Let God be your first and only love until the time is right.