There’s another book that has taken on the hearts and minds of teenagers. There are no battle scenes, no magic spells, and no one has to fight off an evil overlord.
But it did rise to the No. 1 spot on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble bestseller lists six months before it was released. It was named the No. 1 fiction book of 2012 by Time. Plus, it’s flying off the shelves at the Lodi Public Library. It’s “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, and it kind of has an army.
That’s the power and energy behind the film adaptation hitting theaters this weekend.
Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.
They bond over their favorite books, and their relationship bends and twists around all the ways their diseases try to ruin their lives. But they both learn they have choices in this world.
Patrons of Tom’s Used Books on School Street have been requesting copies, but owner Tom Kohlhepp can’t tell them much about it. He hasn’t read the book.
“I know its blue, with black and white clouds on the front, and I know we sell whole bunches of them,” he said.
But he is hearing plenty from readers. It’s all been positive, he says. Teenagers recommend it to their friends and are very enthusiastic about it.
Librarians at the Lodi Public Library say there’s been a tremendous response to the books, especially with the recent movie hype.
The library owns two copies, but both are currently checked out, and seven people are on the waiting list, said children’s librarian Jim Tinder.
“I think we’re going to need to order some more,” said Tinder. “It’s in the teen section, but whenever a movie comes out based on a book, adults look for it, too.”
Inspiration for ‘Fault’
Green wrote the novel “The Fault in Our Stars” over 10 years, inspired in part by the years he spent as a chaplain in a children’s hospital. But the final story didn’t take shape until he met a young fan of the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel that Green runs with his brother, Hank.
Esther Earl was 16 and living in Boston with a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. She was a major fan of the Harry Potter books, ran a popular YouTube channel, and formed many close friendships through her writing online.
Though he only met her twice, Green was inspired by her intelligence, and her ability to find joy and meaningful connections regardless of her illness. She died in 2010. The book was published two years later.
Green makes it clear that his book is not Esther’s story. Her story is her own, called “This Star Won’t Go Out,” and was published in 2013. It consists of her journals, letters to her loved ones, and essays by her family and friends.
Esther’s spirit remains in her online communties through Esther Day, an annual holiday on her birthday.
To celebrate, her friends and family use social media to encourage the world to say “I love you” to brothers, sisters, and friends who don’t hear it often enough.