"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid
Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten."
So, yes the two main characters have cancer and are teenagers that are basically slowly dying. But that is not the main focus of the book. The focus is placed on their relationship and adventures with the occasional reminder that they are still sick. This is possibly the most realistic representation I can find of what I would want a book about teenagers with cancer or any other chronic/terminal disease to be. A book about teenagers and falling in love and having awkward conversations. It doesn't need to focus on the cancer and the dying and the doctor's appointments for the entirety of the book. We know it's there. They know it's there. Having the cancer be more of a central part would destroy a massive purpose. The purpose of showing that people with disease are still people. For example, eating disorders are often compared to cancer (still not sure how i feel about this..), if I were to write a book about living life with an eating disorder... I would write it much like TFIOS. Where the eating disorder is evident. You know the appointments happen and the medical scares. But the most important part is my life with it there. My life with friends and school and love. Eating disorders happen and it is a part of my life but it doesn't need to be the center. John Green shows this beautifully.
The other point that my friend made is that the book is full of metaphors and cliche statements. She feels that this attempt to be deep, just takes away from any actual meaning the book could have had. Part of me wonders if she remembers being a teenager. It is all metaphors and cliches. It just is. I bought a pack of cigarettes on my 18th birthday. It is the classic thing to do (cliche) but I knew I wouldn't smoke them. Metaphors are all around. And a lot of the time, they give you time to think about something. People have been telling me for years that "life is a journey" which is a metaphor. But it is also true. Sometimes life gets really hard and sucks. But it is a journey with ups and downs and twists and turns. And as a teenager, that is really important to remember.
Lastly, Augustus points out that cancer is made of him. Therefore he is fighting a war against himself. A war in which the winner has probably already been chosen. This part meant so much to me. Because it rings so true in my life as well. My eating disorder is in my brain. It is made of me. As our all the dehydrated organs that are desperately searching for water at the moment. I am fighting myself. The difference is that I have the chance to possibly determine the winner of my war. I just have to recognize the battles.
Basically, this book is incredible and I am extremely grateful to have read it and seen the movie.
You choose what is the center of your story.