Tasting The Stars With Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters

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Okay? Okay.

I bet, after reading the book and/or watching the movie adaptation, the meaning of this very simple and most used 4-letter word to you won’t ever be the same again. From now on, when you utter or hear the word ‘okay’, you will remember Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, their one sick love story, their promise of forever, and their little infinity.

Maybe ‘okay’ will be our always.

The Fault In Our Stars is a story about two cancer-stricken teenagers with different views in life who met, fell in love, and experienced little infinity despite their numbered days. It tells about the journey of two individuals battling with sickness while choosing to love each other completely despite knowing the consequences of their choices. It speaks of pain, fear of oblivion, sickness, death, unexpected surprises, taking risks, the joy of falling in love, the precious moments, and best of all, true love. The story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters proves to us that life doesn’t have to be perfect for love to be extraordinary. ❤

“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” – Augustus to Hazel Grace

The Movie Experience:

I must say that the movie did not disappoint its audience and I think it is one of the most faithful – if not the most – movie adaptation of a novel. It stayed true to the story despite omitting a few scenes and minor characters from the book and some movie changes. I think they were able to honor the book and its author, John Green. The movie was able to communicate to us almost perfectly the one of a kind love story of Hazel and Gus. The cast was amazing from the major to minor characters. I couldn’t think of anyone who could play the characters better than Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley, and Nat Wolff. It’s like they were made for it, destined to portray Augustus, Hazel, and Isaac respectively. Hazel’s parents were lovely to watch as well. I despised Peter Van Houten for being such a drunkard jerk but I welcome his importance to the plot. 

Watching a YA movie with a lot of teenagers who are also watching with you in the cinema is a different story though. The moment the movie started and Hazel was speaking in the background, the teenagers can’t help but squeal and we were like WTH? There isn’t anything happening yet! It was kinda annoying at first but we later on found it funny. Of course, louder squeals were heard from them when Hazel and Gus bumped into each other and met for the first time. Oh teens and their hormones! Lol

Teens and adults may have different reactions on some of the scenes in the movie but when it came to the pre-funeral/eulogy scenes, everyone became equal. Age didn’t matter because everyone had the same reaction. Every person in the cinema was crying buckets of tears and sounds of sniffing were heard until the movie ended. I wouldn’t deny that after the movie ended, I and my friend felt our heads ached as a result of crying. We were also left with a heavy feeling in our hearts because we didn’t want Augustus to die. We love the guy! But then I realized that his character needed to die because that’s what happened in the book and giving the audience an alternate ending in the movie would be a betrayal. I’m grateful that they didn’t give in to the pressure of giving the fans a happy ending because by then the story would feel less real. The ending stayed true to the line in the book that says the world is not a wish-granting factory. Hazel and Gus’ love story may have been short-lived, but it will forever be remembered in the hearts of their loyal fans. We may not have gotten the happy ending that everyone of us desires and some may even view it as a tragic love story but we cannot deny the fact that after watching the movie, we’ve also felt uplifted and brought home with us lessons in life and love that made us reflect on ourselves.

Lessons from TFIOS:

1) Be open to new experiences. Make some new friends.

Having cancer and living with a tube in her nose and carrying an oxygen tank wherever she goes, Hazel didn’t want to join any support group which her mom and doctor have been constantly bugging her about. Hazel had this thinking that meeting new people and making new friends were not necessary given the circumstance she’s in. She’ll die sooner or later anyway. She didn’t fear death. She was living a routinely meaningless life because of her sickness until one day she finally decided to give support group a try and met Isaac, and eventually, Augustus. That was the start of their beautiful friendship. Maybe if she didn’t give support group a try, she won’t be able to meet Augustus and Isaac. Maybe it would have been a different scenario but I do think that there will still be another way for Hazel to meet Gus even if she didn’t give support group a try but the point is, she needs to be open and willing to try something new for it to happen.

2) Oblivion is inevitable.

Augustus’ fear is oblivion. He wants to be remembered. He wants to leave a mark in this world. He wants the universe to notice him. Hazel taught him otherwise. She believes that we should just ignore it because oblivion is inevitable. 

“There will come a time, when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you…even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever…” – Hazel to Gus

3) Give yourself and others a chance to get to know each other.

Right after meeting Hazel for the first time in support group, Gus invited her to his house to watch a movie. Hazel was hesitant at first and joked that he could be an ax murderer to which Gus replied that there’s always that possibility. She later on agreed to come and told her mom that she will go to Augustus’ house to watch a movie. That decision gave her and Gus a chance to ask questions about each other and get to know themselves better.

4) Don’t let negative things control you and your life. Take control. Be positive and hopeful.

Augustus asked Hazel what’s her story and she began talking about her thyroid cancer to which she was interrupted by Gus not to tell him her cancer story but rather tell him her story – interests, hobbies, passions, weird fetishes, etc. Hazel can’t think of what to say to him because she thinks she’s not very interesting so she told him that she’s pretty unextraordinary to which Gus disagreed. He told her that he rejects that out of hand and asked her to think of something that she likes. The first thing that comes to mind. Augustus taught Hazel not to let her cancer overcome her. She’s still alive and as long as she is, there will always be reasons to be positive and hopeful. Augustus is like a dose of positive energy. He’s funny and cute. He’s charming. He has a good sense of humor. He is strong and brave. He is wise. He stands and fights for what he believes in. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He is genuine. He is someone who is full of hope despite the circumstance he’s in.

5) Be brave and take a risk.

During the swing set scene, after Hazel got out of the ICU, Augustus already knew that he was dying. Hazel, out of her desire to minimize the casualties thinking that she’s a grenade which at some point would blow up, wanted to distance herself from Augustus and made it clear to him that she wanted them to be just friends. Augustus understood where she was coming from but their circumstances didn’t hinder him to take a risk and fall in love with Hazel Grace.

“You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you. All efforts to save me from you will fail.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.” – Augustus Waters

6) True love is for everyone.

It doesn’t matter if you are healthy or sick, rich or poor, ugly or beautiful, fat or thin, everyone deserves to have true love. 

“I believe in true love. I don’t believe that everybody gets to keep their eyes or not get sick or whatever, but everybody should have true love, and it should last at least as long as your life does.” – Isaac

7) You don’t need the world to know about you for you to feel special. 

You don’t need to be famous so that you could feel that you’re special. You only need to leave good memories behind with the people who matter to you. Regardless of who you are or what your status in life is, you are special to the people who know about you, especially to the person who loves you.

8) Forever is not measured by how much time you have together.

Not every one will have the chance to have a happily ever after with the one they love but I believe that everyone deserves to experience true love even if it’s only short-lived. As the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Forever is not measured by how much time you have together. If love is true, then no matter how long or short the time you’ve got, the precious moments you spent together within that period of time would mean forever to both of you. Nothing is constant in this world. Our lives and the time that we have is indefinite. We don’t know until when are we going to roam around this world. Sometimes we would feel that life is meaningless but love gives meaning to our lives so never be afraid to fall in love despite the many uncertainties that we go through everyday. Time is precious so live your best life now and make the most out of it.

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”

“There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

9) Love is not age dependent. Love is real. Love is not perfect.

No matter how old or young you are when you fall in love, people must not judge the kind of love that you have because love is not age dependent. It doesn’t mean that the love teenagers feel when they fall in love is not true nor should be considered a lesser degree/form than when adults fall in love. I believe love demands respect no matter what kind of love it is, and no matter how old or young the person is when he/she felt and experienced it. Love is a universal thing. It cannot be bounded by laws, norms, and beliefs that humans created for themselves. It is not something that you can put in a box. Love exceeds your expectations and limits. Love is imperfect but real. Love makes you feel human. Love may make or break you but above all, love gives meaning to your existence.

“It was nice to spend time with someone so interesting. We were very different, and we disagreed about a lot of things, but he was always so interesting. He wasn’t perfect or anything. He wasn’t your fairy-tale Prince Charming or whatever. He tried to be like that sometimes, but I liked him best when that stuff fell away.” Hazel Grace on Augustus

10) Stand by your decisions. Be proud of the choices you’ve made. 

Oftentimes, we regret the choices we’ve made. I don’t think there’s anyone of us, human being for that matter, who didn’t regret a decision he or she made in the past. Everyday, we make decisions in our lives from the minor things to the major ones which could alter our lives forever. Making a decision is never easy. There’s always this fear of failure and making mistakes. There are always ‘BUTs’ and ‘WHAT IFs’. We over-think and over-analyze most of the time. We go through this whole process every time but what we tend to forget is that life is too short to be spent on just worrying and regretting the choices we’ve made. We are bound to fail and make mistakes sometimes because we are not perfect and failure doesn’t make us any less than who we already are. We are made up of all things, both the good and the bad, that’s why we need to embrace the failures and all other negative things in between because they teach us something in the end. Let’s learn to live each day with no regrets. Be brave enough to stand by your decisions and most of all, be proud of the choices you’ve made. 

“After my PET scan lit up, I snuck into the ICU and saw her while she was unconscious. I got to sit next to her for like ten minutes before I got caught. I really thought she was going to die before I could tell her that I was going to die, too. It was brutal: the incessant mechanized haranguing of intensive care. She had this dark cancer water dripping out of her chest. Eyes closed. But her hand was still her hand, still warm and the nails painted this almost black dark blue and I just held her hand and tried to imagine the world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was going, too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar.”

“She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” – Augustus Waters

Of Crying Buckets of Tears

I think what made the story more heartbreaking is the fact that Augustus Waters died before Hazel Grace Lancaster did. The unexpected twist did it. We were all prepared to see Hazel die because we were expecting it from the very beginning and the character herself was prepared to face her death. But we weren’t expecting a charming boy, who had already been freed from cancer, will get a recurring and eventually die earlier than the love of his life. We were expecting Augustus to give his eulogy in Hazel’s funeral. Everybody loves Augustus and his charming and sweet ways. He is funny and sometimes overconfident with the way he looks. Some might even say he is quite an arrogant young man, but he’s not annoying in any way. In fact, Augustus has this ability to tickle you on the right spots. He has the ability to be sarcastic and funny at the same time. He is witty. I love his humor and I like the fact that he is fond of metaphors. He has the ability to win over people he meet and getting strangers to love him.

If you’re going to ask me if it’s worth it to watch the movie/read the book despite knowing that you’ll cry buckets of tears in the end? My answer would always be yes. Yes, it’s worth it. All the crying, sniffing, and heavy feeling inside is worth it. I believe it’s a great love story. It gives us a glimpse on the thoughts and feelings of cancer patients, but at the same time, the story of Hazel and Augustus makes us believe in true love. It’s a celebration of life and love despite whatever circumstances you’re in.

I believe that the most touching part of the story is the pre-funeral/eulogy scene. Of course, aside from making you cry your heart out, that scene made us understand more the feelings that they have for each other. It proved to us that the length of time is not an indicator for love to be great and true. Their exchange of eulogy was heartbreaking. At some point, I wished for them to have an alternate ending, free from sickness, having their own family, and living a happy life together, but this is not a fairy tale and fairy tales, no matter how romantic and happy, are not true. And I think, something that is true and real, no matter how painful, is still better than something that is unreal and deceitful. 

Questions Left Unanswered

Like Peter Van Houten in An Imperial Affliction, I know that John Green would like to leave the story in the book as it is, but still I can’t help but ask these questions:

1) After Augustus died, how long did it take before Hazel dies? Was there a possibility for her to be healed from her thyroid cancer? You know like a second time but greater miracle than the first one.

2) If Hazel was given a longer time to live, did she meet new people or make some new friends? Did she love again? What did she do to keep herself pre-occupied after she lost Augustus?

3) What happened to Isaac? Did he love again after that Monica incident? Did he and Hazel remain good friends?

4) If Hazel died as we are expecting, what happened to her parents? Did they keep their promise to stay together? Did her mom become a social worker?

Other Memorable Lines:

“That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”

“Without pain, how could we know joy?”

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

“Sometimes, people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.”

“The marks human leave are too often scars.”

“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.”

 

Waiter: “Do you know what Dom Perignon said after inventing champagne?”

Hazel: “No.”

Waiter: “He called out to his fellow monks, ‘Come quickly: I am tasting the stars‘.Welcome to Amsterdam.”

 

Note: Some of the quotes were not used in the movie but were lifted from the book. 

 

“I do, Augustus. I do.” – Hazel Grace Lancaster

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