Thursday, January 26, 2012
Last night and early this morning I read The Fault in Our Stars, Green's new novel about teens living with cancer. Not long ago I interviewed a girl in recovery who was destined to make it—she told me her plans, she was certain—and didn't. You can't forget a girl like that. Nor will you forget Green's teens.
It is true, perhaps, that Green's characters have a tendency to speak and think alike—that they are all, even the minor characters, equally witty and in the same gentle ways witty—but I'm not sure that matters here. What matters is that John Green creates characters we care about, and that he allows them to think deeply, and that he sets them on life's course, which is to say that he can't protect them, he can't save them, and sometimes they can't save themselves. What he can do is give them what we all need, which is to say love. John Green writes from a place of goodness. His stories are soul-centric. They move us because they are not afraid of kindness, gentleness, tender affections. They don't bother to wrap themselves inside the hard casings of excessive irony or gore, the aren't-I-outlandish, the please-look-at-me. They may take some unusual plot turns, but they're not trying to pretend. They're trying to love. And they are succeeding.
There are so many lines in this book that are worth quoting. I'm going to quote the simplest one. "She is funny without ever being mean."
Yes. And why not? And why not more goodness like the kind we encounter in John Green?