On a recent trip out of town, I purchased the Kindle version of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
I wanted to read it before my 11-year-old daughter to see if she would like it. I knew vague details of the plot, and I knew cancer was involved, but that was about it.
Well, the quick answer is NO, she is not ready for this book. I realize they read dark and sometimes depressing books in middle school, but the reality in this one is too much for her at this point. It may have been too much for me.
By saying that, I'm not saying I didn't like the book. I truly did. But it made me think in ways I was not prepared to think. To ache. To wish. To gasp out loud on the airplane when I reached an important moment.
I kept imagining what I would have felt if I had read it as a teenager. I imagined what my daughter may feel when she reads it someday. And I also read it through the eyes of a parent, wondering how much pain a person can take.
But more than all of that, the writer in me was drawn to the characterizations, the details that made the people come to life. Short phrases conveyed paragraphs worth of emotion. As with any book, some of the quirks were a bit too quirky for me, but they never took me out of the story. A mild annoyance rather than a distraction, they probably made me feel as I would have if I met the characters for real.
And isn't that a lofty goal for a writer? To create characters that readers want to meet is quite an achievement. Creating people we want to know can be tricky. It happened in the story. It happened to me as I read the story. Now how can I make it happen to someone who reads one of my stories? Something else to keep me up at night...