Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fault in Our Culture

Over two years ago, when we were newbies in the Cancer Club, I posted about some of the good resources that I had discovered.  One of them included the book The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.  This is what I wrote then--

The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green--I suppose this would be labeled as Young Adult fiction, and I would never have bought it if we weren't in this place.  The main characters of the book meet at a teen cancer support group, so it takes a coming of age story in a new direction.  The main guy, Gus, has the same type of cancer as Harrison (osteosarcoma), and is 14 months NEC (no evidence of cancer).  It is not a feel good book, per se, and is not the kind of book that would be found at Bible Book Stores.  The kids have cancer, and kids with cancer are sick and vomity and some of them die.  Plus, they are teenagers, so that tends to take the story in places that too many YA fiction books go to nowadays (think Juno-esque).  But, for some reason, it was good to for me to read.  Not for my mom, or husband, or even Harrison to read, though.  Not yet.  Maybe when he is about 5 or 6 years NEC. 

The book had just recently been released at that time.  Yesterday the movie version was released in theaters nationwide.  Through good timing and circumstances, I was able to see the first showing of the day.  I was prepared with my full box of Kleenex and post-movie chocolate.  I knew it would be a sob fest, and it was.  I knew it was something for me to watch alone, and I was.

So, what did I think?

I was impressed with how true to the book it was.  Almost all of the dialogue and situations were from the book.  The characters were strong and believable.  I wasn't sure the character of Gus would be done well, but the actor (Ansel Elgort -- isn't that a great name?) did a very good job.  The adult characters were more one dimensional, which is understandable given the movie is not about them directly, and this is where the book did a much better job of showing how the situations that the teens found themselves living in affected the parents.  That being said, it was the few parts of the movie with the parent scenes that affected me the most.  You know, like rushing into a room with the kid yells because you don't know if it is a normal 'I need you to see something' yell, or if there will be body fluids involved.  Cancer Club stuff.  But again, just like when I read the book, it was therapeutic.  Maybe not for my mom, or husband, but for me.

Because it is Hollywood, the movie placed a significant focus on the romance/language part of the relationships between the main characters.  In a PG-13 way.  I am not surprised, but this still makes me sad.  In the book, the physical relationship was more implied than described, and the mom in me liked this.  This is not the case with the movie, and my heart was sad at the number of young people who will be seeing this movie and have their hearts captivated by a story of love and friendship and validation that will stay in their imaginations, in large part because of the physical images of intimacy portrayed.   Call me old fashioned or prudish, but I am still a firm believer that sex is for marriage only, even for cancer kids and folks that won't make it to marriage.  But I digress....

I liked the book.  I liked the movie.  I hate cancer.  I also hate cultural norms that devalue goodness and truth.

And speaking of goodness and truth--what goodness and truth can be found in cancer (or anything else horrific, for that matter)?  That post is coming soon...

My used Kleenex and remaining chocolate stash after the movie.

Disclaimer:  I am not recommending this book or this movie for anyone other than me.  This may not be for you.  And if you have children who may be reading/watching it, you should definitely be informed (not just for this, but for any book/movie).  It will affect their hearts.  You can read a review of The Fault in Our Stars here.

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