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Book Club: The Fault In Our Stars

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Welcome to the discussion page for The Fault in Our Stars! Scroll down to meet the editors, read blogs, and discuss the book with other readers in the comments.

During the course of discussion, you can always email us or tweet us with hashtag #hpbookclub -- we'll be featuring your thoughts and questions in our weekly newsletter.

Click here if you need a refresher on how this book club works.

Zoë Triska, Associate Editor. I admit that I'm one of those people who Googles phrases, places, names every couple of pages when I'm reading. There are constantly things that stump me, though so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Andrew Losowsky, Books Editor. I look for stories to take my brain into new spaces, and I'll be particularly discussing the facts as we think we know them, and the clues I think we're being given by the story.

Annemarie Dooling, Community Editor. Locations and descriptions speak to me the same way characters do. If you read the same books over and over again the way I do, we're going to get along just fine.

Elizabeth Perle, Teen Editor. I can't stand writers who use "teen speak" to try talk to young people (LOLS OMG SWOON), and I like my YA like I like my coffee: strong, sharp, not watered down, and with kick-ass female characters.

Taylor Trudon, Associate Teen Editor. I'm a sucker for well-hidden inspirational quotes and have been known to develop crushes on YA fictional characters. I read "Little Women" in middle school and still haven't fully recovered from the death of Beth March.

Here's our discussion schedule:

March 27: Intro and begin reading
April 3: The role of literature in the story
April 10: Young adults and cancer
April 17: All about John Green
April 24: Book completion and community Google+ Hangout

Click here to view past books and discussions.

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Last week we opened up the floor to our Teen community to share their favorite quotes and takeaway thoughts from The Fault in Our Stars. The chat was fantastic and we definitely have a clear idea of what parts of the book made the deepest impression on young readers.

This week, we're taking the talk back home where we'll have a roundtable of editors discussing the biggest issues you asked us during all of our chats and commenting sessions.

Join us right here at 4pm ET or leave your thoughts below on the following topics: - Do adults and teens read this book differently? - What does each group get out of it? - Does this say anything about the direction YA is moving in?

- Was this your first brush with John Green and would you read him again?

At 4pm ET the video and hangout link will appear right here and you can watch after we've closed the hangout, too.

Here's the blog post by Rebekah that we discuss in the hangout: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebekah-bolser/the-fault-in-our-stars-john-green_b_3094025.html

"That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt." -- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I cried the first time I read these words. Actually, to be honest, I cry every time I read those words. I can never describe how much that quote means to me. I'm no stranger to pain. I don't think anyone is, really. Pain is a price we pay for being human, for feeling emotions of any kind. I read The Fault in Our Stars six times in the matter of a week. It was the most emotional week of my life and I spent it curled up with TFiOS and mixed berry applesauce.

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@ lovelyjanette23 : “@HuffPostTeen: "I believe the universe wants to be noticed." - #60minsofTFIOS” #somuchyes

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@ GSpiegelerBooks : “@HuffPostTeen: “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” - #60minsofTFIOS”

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@ katzav : Just finished #hpbookclub The Fault in our Stars and loved the story of human emotions, love and friendship. I laughed and cried, beautiful!

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Thanks to all of our Huff Post Teens for sharing their favorite quotes with us on Twitter. We had a blast with you all during #60minsofTFIOS!

The most shared and favorited quote of the evening was: "It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you, Hazel Grace."

Is this your favorite quote? Do you think there is a better one that you would like to share? Let the quote fest continue and share in the comments below.

Also, be sure to comment on the 4/18 discussion questions. We would love for our teens to chime in.

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- How do you feel about Hazel's parents, are they realistic as far as how parents interact with their teen children? Do you think they're overbearing? Do they attempt to understand Hazel and what she is experiencing?

- What do think it was about Hazel that made Augustus so instantly drawn to her?

- How realistic is the love story between August and Hazel, is it true to the story of teenage love?

Tell us your thoughts on these questions in the comments below and we will pick our favorites to headline the book club newsletter next week. Let us know how your reading is going and if there is something that you would like to discuss particularly.

As always, if this book has touched you in a personal way, email us to lead a conversation or write your own thoughts at hpbookclub@huffingtonpost.com

For more thoughts from our editors for this week's reading, click here.

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We've been discussing The Fault in Our Stars for two weeks now and have yet to bring up the main storyline: Hazel and her battle with cancer. Besides her relationship with Gus, it's the most important aspect of the book, drives much of her decision-making and relationships with other characters, and we wouldn't be doing the discussion justice if we didn't address it.

So, please join us right here at 4pm ET on April 10th when we'll be discussing young adults and cancer with amazing bloggers and community members.

During this discussion we will be joined by:

Mother and Son, Mindy and Hunter Brooks - Mindy, a founding board member of Teen Cancer America, has been passionate advocate for teens with cancer since 2010 when her son, Hunter, 14, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Hunter now 17, and in remission, is in high school and continues to share his story with other teens battling cancer.

Woody Roseland - a dynamic motivational speaker, comedian, and Huffington Post blogger. With great courage Woody has overcome insurmountable odds to beat cancer seven times.

Taylor Trudon - Associate editor of HuffPost Teen and avid John Green fan.

Here's what we'll be discussing. Leave your comments below to be included:

- How is the experience of Hazel's parents portrayed in the book? - Hazel, August, and other characters in the book have this level of elevated maturity for their age. How does Green portray both their maturity and the fact that they are still very young--this phenomenon of teens dealing with a very "adult" issue.

- How authentic are scenarios in the book? What instances most truly represent the experiences of teens and their families dealing with cancer?

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The most important issue covered in The Fault in Our Stars is that of young adults living with cancer.

Here at HuffPost, our Healthy Living team has an amazing series called Generation Why where young adults of all walks of life who are living with cancer struggle to let us into their emotions and lives, with topics ranging from keeping up with studies to preparing an insurance check list.

I was convinced that somehow, if I did everything just right, I could earn my place among the cancer-free. I thought that within six months of diagnosis I would be back to my normal life and that cancer would just be like a bad aftertaste of the previous summer. I even thought that if I tried to stay positive and didn't let myself worry, then maybe I wouldn't have to lose my hair. I was just certain that there was some way to outsmart this whole cancer patient thing and come out as Wonderwoman. - Elise Frame in her Generation Why blog post.

Being out of school for the better part of the last three years has somewhat hindered my social interactions. On top of that, a year and a half after my diagnosis, my family had to move because of my dad's job. I found it difficult to make new friends at my new high school as an incoming freshman. I had missed half of seventh grade and all of eighth, not to mention I was walking with a slight limp/slap foot that was caused by neurotoxic chemotherapy. I was made fun of on a regular basis because of the way I walked and even knocked down in the hallway once by someone running to class and no one stopped to help me. My "old" friends can no longer relate to me and frankly, sometimes I get angry with them when they talk about how their life sucks. If high school were filled with all my friends (and future friends) from Stupid Cancer, then I wouldn't be so hesitant to go back full time. - A post from 15-year-old Lola Scott

On Wednesday, 4/10 we'll be hosting an open forum with a Generation Why blogger and a few other young adult cancer survivors. Please join us at 4pm ET while we discuss the authenticities in the book and how media can impact this community.

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Links from our hangout:

Q. Aren’t you even a little tempted to write An Imperial Affliction? A. No, I could never write a novel like An Imperial Affliction, and I don’t think I would enjoy writing it. There’s a variety of writing that David Foster Wallace once described as, “Look, mom! No hands!” AIA, as I imagine it, is very much that kind of novel: prodigious and ostentatious and full of that Pynchonian need to show every possible thing that words can do. I love reading those books, but I’m not interested in attempting to write one.

Also, one of the magical things about books (or bands) that don’t exist is that they can achieve a kind of greatness that isn’t available to real artworks. Writing An Imperial Affliction would only ruin it, sort of by definition.

More here from the Q&A.

An Imperial Affliction on Tumblr
Peter Van Houten on Twitter
Imperial Affliction artwork
Atlas: Poems by Katrina Vandenberg

Tulip mania

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Join us here at 4pm on 4/3 when we'll be discussing An Imperial Affliction, the book within a book from TFIOS via Google Hangout.

We'll be discussing the following topics:

How does An Imperial Affliction push Hazel's own story forward?

Which themes from the book hit home for Hazel and Gus?

UPDATE: Here's our discussion!

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@ TyRyansaurusRex : I'm late to the game but just picked up "The Fault In Our Stars" by @realjohngreen for the #hpbookclub. http://t.co/TAxWB6oRNH

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Time magazine last week had the headline "How To Cure Cancer" on its cover.

Slate.com's Seth Mnookin has some serious issues with that choice:

Instead of jump-starting a conversation about the most effective approach to cancer research, Time distorted it beyond recognition... The result of this succession of grandiose promises is similar to that of the boy who cried wolf: Eventually, it becomes hard to take even realistic claims seriously.

How do you think Hazel and Augustus might react to a headline like that?

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The annual Morning News Tournament of Books is one of the literary highlights of the year (think of it as March Madness for readers), and in its latest edition The Fault In Our Stars made it through to the final before losing out to Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son.

John said he had "no chance":

Winners are offered a live rooster as a prize, so perhaps he got off lightly. Either way, it does mean that very smart people talked about TFiOS throughout the tournament, in some really interesting ways.

Author Edan Lepucki:

My main complaint about Green’s novel is that at times it’s little too slick. The dialogue between Augustus and Hazel is so clever it felt like I was watching an adorable indie comedy. It was like Juno the novelization (and I even like Juno). That slickness kept me from truly feeling connected to the characters; I didn’t cry at the end of the book, but merely observed which passages might elicit a tear.

(NB We don't share this view; we wept like hungry babies.)

Book reviewer Stefan Beck:

Hazel put me in mind of Mattie Ross, the heroine of Charles Portis’s True Grit, not because they’re both young, flinty, and female, but because their voices make you forget that someone invented them... Having spent the better part of my teen years with a terminally ill friend, I couldn’t read this book, and its descriptions of humiliating physical frailty, without feeling that it’s never too early to teach your children about life’s fragility and transience.

Journalist Natasha Vargas-Cooper:

The Fault in Our Stars, which gets its name from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is bursting with all the tingling tidbits of a basic humanities education: scraps from poetry, plays, history, myths, and psychology. It all reminded me of what Orwell said about Shakespeare, “Even the irrelevancies that litter every one of his plays—the puns and riddles, the lists of names, the scraps of “reportage” like the conversation of the carriers in Henry IV, the bawdy jokes, the rescued fragments of forgotten ballads—are merely the products of excessive vitality.”

Writer/Editor Kate Bolick:

[It] made me do something I’d never done before: laugh and cry simultaneously the whole way through, and I mean really cry, rivers of tears streaming down my face, drowning out the annoying reggae blaring next door, until there was nothing left in this world but two hilarious, dying teenagers.

Writer Rachel Riederer:

Having recently been through the cancer-death of someone I love, I am very grateful that The Fault in Our Stars exists. It wrecked me (in the best way) with its characters’ calm fatalism and its generously real depictions of the physical indignities and existential distresses of dying and grieving. It fulfilled for me that lovely Vonnegut quote about literature making us feel less alone.

What do you think?

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@ HuffPostBooks : This week, Hazel Grace Lancaster was cast in 'The Fault In Our Stars' movie! http://t.co/SqhxH2ZA7X #HPBookClub

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  • Do you feel like Hazel has a real understanding of how her mom feels? For me, their interactions were by far the most (subtly) heartwrenching -- and heartwarming -- in the book.
  • How did you feel about how Hazel's dad, who is pretty much always crying, coped with her illness? Hazel talks about him less, but they have a powerful conversation near the end of the book that made me want to go back and re-read their earlier scenes together.
  • Crooked smile aside, what was it about Augustus what made him so compelling to Hazel?
  • How much does it change the motivation of a character when they know that their narrative is predestined to end soon?
  • How much is this book about maintaining a level of autonomy and spontaneity in the face of that inevitability, even just for what Hazel describes as "a little infinity"?
  • Is true meaning what we insert into the spaces around the predetermined tale that is our own mortality?

Tell us your thoughts on these questions in the comments below and we will pick our favorites to headline the book club newsletter next week. And tell us how your reading is going.

Plus, if this book has touched you in a personal way, email us to lead a conversation or write your own thoughts at hpbookclub@huffingtonpost.com

For more thoughts from our editors for this week's reading, click here.

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"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." - William Shakespeare

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@ HuffPostTeen : Important question: Does anyone out there know of any HUGE #nerdfighters that we should know about? #topsecretproject

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In her article about transgender teens in the magazine this week, Margaret Talbot quotes Annette Bening and Warren Beatty’s son Stephen calling himself, among other things, a “nerd fighter.” It might escape the average reader’s notice that this term is more than the sum of its parts. In the teen-age population, “nerdfighter” (as a compound word) has a very specific meaning and etymology.

Primarily, it identifies the teen-ager in question as a follower of John Green. Green is a former divinity student who dropped his plans to join the ordained ministry after a stint as a hospital chaplain. But you could say that, in his career as a young-adult novelist, he’s become another sort of evangelist. His “A Fault in Our Stars” débuted at No. 1 on the children’s best-seller lists about a year ago. It is about a love affair between two teen-aged cancer sufferers, and was drawn, in part, from his experience as a chaplain.

Green has been writing about teen-agers who don’t quite fit in, albeit in less epidemiologically significant ways, for some time. His first novel, “Looking for Alaska,” in which a boarding-school student puzzles out what happened to his friend when she died in murky circumstances, showed a knack for the alienated-whip-smart-teen-ager genre. Some people might mutter something here about formula. But, for his readers, Green did what David Foster Wallace said good fiction did: he made them feel less alone. The book was not an instant best-seller when it appeared, in 2006, but it was something almost better: a cult hit. And, as such, it gave Green the beginnings of an online following.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/03/a-note-on-nerdfighters.html

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We're pretty excited about this John Green timeline we put up today - but fans, let us know if we forgot something big! We are newbies and we want to learn.

And leave us a comment if you have a personal connection you'd want to blog about. We'd love to hear from you.

Tell us everything you know about John Green.

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We are so ready to jump in to discussions on The Fault in Our Stars and hope you are too. A few things before readings begin.

If you are new to the HuffPost Book Club, find a how-to post written by yours truly here: http://huffingtonpost.com/annemarie-dooling/huffpost-book-club-a-how-to_b_1745381.html

And all book discussions from the past can be found on our book club page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/book-club

This page you are on right now is the page where we will post all updates and link to any supplemental material. We encourage discussions using the commenting platform below -- please leave any questions there as well and the editors or some of our amazing community members will respond to you.

We'll begin reading on March 27th, but until then leave any first thoughts on the book below.

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@ realjohngreen : Congratulations to the nerdfighters of @kiva, who've just passed ,000,000 (!!!) in loans. http://t.co/0KlIRKLlRx

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