Love and Loss in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’: Book reviews

‘I’m tired of adults telling teenagers that they aren’t smart, that they can’t read critically and that they aren’t thoughtful.″John Green

 Inspired by John Green’s faith in his readership, Y7 & 8 book club reflect on this beautifully written and heart-warming novel as part of the February Reading Challenge. As an awarding winning, critically acclaimed novel which is soon to be made into a film  – what is the real meaning of this story and why does it end the way it does? Y8 girls tell us more …

The true meaning

As in many books that are turned into films, there can be numerous differences that in some cases are not to the audience’s liking; ‘The Fault in our Stars’ is a perfect example. In the film trailer, the story comes across as a stereotypical, soppy romance between two mature teenagers who are cancer survivors. In the trailer it is all about Augustus and Hazel’s love with a short snippet of where their love journey begins: at the cancer support group. It depicts purely the story of their love rather than the courage shown by both characters in their fight against cancer. Some think that indeed the story is about their love and they both just have cancer as a coincidence and get through it together.

However, we think that there is a deeper meaning. Hazel and Augustus are two very courageous people who are part of a unique love story. Their love isn’t simply Hollywood love; it is an emotional roller-coaster that they go on together.  We think the book is about the strength of human courage, even knowing that they may lose each other, however the film trailer depicts the story as if Hazel Grace’s life revolves around Augustus and the love they share. It is as if the novel is a love story and the genre is romance, but in truth the novel has a much deeper meaning. John Green manages to capture the essence of cancer and the way it changes someone’s life through Hazel and Isaac’s journey and the challenges they face. Yet they show an optimistic attitude to them and take them on without fear of any consequences that might come with it. This novel is actually about courage – the courage of Hazel and the obstacles that come her way. Her strong spirit brings the book to life and the faith she has in Augustus assists her to overcome difficult dilemmas. As well as this, her perseverance and determination to get better are clearly seen throughout the novel, inspiring readers to be hopeful even in the most challenging times.

By Lucy Slater and Diya Gupta, 8P


The final letter


The ending of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is very touching as Hazel Grace reads Augustus’ letter to Peter Van Houten about her, explaining the way he wanted to leave a mark on the world for people to remember him and remember his life. He mentioned that although Hazel won’t leave such a big mark, she ‘loved deeply not widely’. We think this is meaningful as it shows that life is not about meeting everyone and leaving your name stamped on the world; you have to love people around you that you care most about so your love will be powerful and sincere. Teenage girls can relate to this because they want everyone to love them, but the deep and honest relationships are worth so much more. Think about it, wouldn’t you rather have a small group of people who loved you rather than crowds of people who don’t truly care for you as much? It is a really beautiful ending to this book as Augustus says he loves Hazel with all his heart and hopes she is glad with the life decisions she made. After the letter ends, Hazel writes: ‘I do, Augustus. I do.’ This is an intriguing ending because it doesn’t exactly explain how she truly feels about the details in the letter or how she is going to cope with life afterwards. However, we think that it’s a very peaceful, simple ending which show she doesn’t need to say much; the letter was all she needed. By using his name – “Augustus” in the final line shows how much he means to her and how she can still connect with him after death. Their love can transcend and conquer everything even when death pulls them apart.


By Morayo Ogungbesan and Elsa Tempest, 8P

Keep checking the library blog for more Reading Challenge book reviews – yours could feature – and remember, you get points for every book review you write too!

Kingston Borough Literary Quiz success!

On this momentous day (Happy Founders day everyone!), it is fitting that, yesterday, Surbiton High School also made a little bit of history at the annual Kingston Borough Literary Quiz. Designed to test the literary knowledge of all competing schools in the Borough, all schools are represented by a Year 7/8 and a Year 9/10 team, and being the keen reading school we are, we naturally entered two teams ourselves with a feeling of cautious optimism.

As ever, all teams were tested on five set books, and also had their general literary knowledge put to the test, with questions on everything from Shakespeare to the Mr Men books.

Competition was fierce, and the girls performed brilliantly in tense circumstances, not least on the nerve shredding General Knowledge round, which was on the buzzer! During the Year 9/10 quiz, one of our team members accidentally buzzed early, hearing only the “What colour is…” part of the question about a Mr Men character. Amazingly, she managed to guess the colour (Pink, for Mr Greedy) correctly! A good omen?

Year 7 and 8 team

The victorious Year 7/8 team…

When the results came in, we learned that we had succeeded in beating off all competition and triumph in both the Year 7/8 and Year 9/10 categories. This is a phenomenal achievement in itself, but it becomes doubly so considering that this is the first time that any school has won in both categories in a single year since the competition began in 2006! Suffice to say there are not enough superlatives to describe the girls’ performance.

We also managed to win individual prizes for demonstrating our literary knowledge in impromptu ‘spot quizzes’.Even I managed to win a £5 book token for successfully identifying the English county in which J.M. Falkner’s Moonfleet is set (Cornwall, in case you wanted to know)! As far as our best days at SHS go, this was definitely right up there.

Year 9 team

and the triumphant Year 9/10 team. Well done everyone!

A great way to finish the half term, and a perfect send-off for Miss Handley too, who was especially proud of the Year 7/8 team, as she’d been preparing them for the day. As the reading challenge booklets were handed out at the Public Speaking competition earlier, I sincerely hope that our literary success has inspired you to uncover the unique magic found within the pages of a great book and has shown you just what great things can happen to those who read.

Have a great half term everyone!