A recent read

by

By: Jane Beall
Assistant Field Hockey Coach

The ability to pursue many interests is a hallmark of going to school at Washington and Lee. Fortunately, it’s also a hallmark of working here. As someone who has diagnosed herself with a form of life-ADD, I appreciate the opportunity to explore hobbies beyond the sidelines. One such hobby of mine is reading. I credit this love of books to my family – my parents were diligent about reading to my sister and me as children and allowing us to read to them when we got old enough. God bless them for sitting through night after night of listening to a six-year-old with a wicked speech impediment try to pronounce words from Dr. Seuss. My interest in reading grew as I did, mainly because my sister preferred books to my company, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I went on to major in English in college, where my professors fostered and expanded this interest, and I continued to develop my taste in books.

There is a line in the book I read on the way home from a recruiting showcase this weekend that seemed to apply well to the very book that featured it.  The quotation is from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and it is: “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books…so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal.” For me, The Fault in Our Stars falls somewhere in between. Reading it, it felt precious like a secret, but it’s a secret too good not to whisper to a few trusted friends.

It’s not necessarily a recommendation, because I think you need to know a person to recommend something to him. The Fault in Our Stars is however a book that punched me in the gut, in a totally good way. It made me hold my breath and not realize I was doing it until the end of a page. Some of it is wry and funny, and some of it is sad, but the saddest part was running out of pages to read.  Technically classified a young adult book, there is very little that is juvenile about this one. The narrator, 16 year-old Hazel, is a precocious cancer patient who falls in love with Augustus, a survivor she meets in a cancer support group, over a fictitious novel, An Imperial AfflictionThe Fault in Our Stars deals with mature and timeless themes, like love, grief, and frustrated dreams, while chronicling their time together. You fall in love with Hazel and Augustus as they fall in love with each other, and even though by the end you can’t stop crying, you just don’t want the book to be over. The writing is fantastic and Green doesn’t pander with simplistic writing – each sentence feels like a craft, something thoughtfully built by hand.  Green expects a lot from his audience and in return, he rewards the reader – at least this one – with a very satisfying and moving experience.

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