The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I was recently nominated for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award by The Writing Duo over at The Pendant Trilogy blog. I had recently told myself I would politely thank anyone who nominated me for anymore awards, but decline as it actually takes quite a bit of time to craft these posts. (My novel is anxiously waiting to be finished!) But in case you don’t know, The Writing Duo are twin writers and bloggers. I’m afraid due to my own twins I am unable to refuse a set of twins anything they desire. Especially writing and blogging twins!

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So here are the rules:

 

  • Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

 

Well, I already follow the bloggers who nominated me, but here are the seven facts about myself.

  1. I live by a lake and own a pool, but I hate getting in the water!
  2. Though I can’t play sports to save my life, I love watching them! Professionals, my kids, on TV or in person.
  3. My favorite color is coral.
  4. If I’m performing a task that I have a routine for (folding laundry, brushing my teeth) I have to start over if my routine is interrupted.
  5. If I can’t fall asleep I count imaginary stairs instead of sheep.
  6. I would wear flip flops all-year-round if I didn’t live in Michigan!
  7. I love wearing bright colors, even if they make my pale skin look washed out!

So I’m not going to nominate any other bloggers. Quite frankly, I am inspired by every blog I read, because I know how much time it takes to write these blogs and have a life as well. If you would like to participate, tag yourself in the blog. I’m sure you deserve it!

Dating Red Flags: Recognizing the Potential Abuser

I was just going to comment on this post by TK regarding the potential signs of an abuser, but I had so much to say I decided to reblog and post my comment here. It might be helpful to read her blog post first, then my comment, but do as you wish!

Reading this brought a lot of ideas to my head, so I apologize if this is a very chaotic. I’ll try to be concise, but if you read my blog, you know I’m not! 🙂

A few years ago my little sister, who is a reporter for a local news station, interviewed an old crush of mine for a feel good story. When I say old, I’m talking like from the time we could walk until about 4th grade. So, you know, we’re talking some pretty serious stuff here. Well, off camera, he mentioned to my sister that I was the first girl he saw naked. Let’s be very clear here: I remember none of this! And if it happened (and that’s a big if) it must have been when we were very little so really, he saw nothing!

But it brought to mind another incident when I was little that I do remember. We were visiting a family friend who had a son my age. He locked me in a room in the basement and wouldn’t let me out until I flashed him my chest. Once again, my memory is fuzzy. I remember the incident, but not whether I actually went through with it. Regardless, we were like four, so no real harm done.

Except there was. It was my first experience with males demonstrating abusive behavior. I know, he was four, but still. The humiliating feeling of being forced to become an object of ogling and treated like a thing as opposed to a person was somewhat devastating. After all, I still remember it a good 34 years later. I haven’t encountered much in the way of abusive men since then. I’ve been lucky. Many girls have not been. And men too.

In TK’s post she asks what you would do if you suspected your child was the abuser in a relationship, and I think it’s a great question. Thinking about that humiliating experience I had as a child, my sons would be in serious trouble if I ever found them behaving in such a way. For that matter, whenever I hear a song or see a demonstration of inappropriate behavior to a female in movies, I’m sure to talk to my sons about it. Sometimes combining that with threats of dire retribution should I ever discover them treating another person with such disrespect. So I guess I would say I would definitely approach my children if I felt they were exhibiting abusive behavior, or even warning signs of said behavior. Relationships take respect, and if your being abusive, even minorly abusive, it shows you don’t respect your partner.

Case in point, my ex-husband and I showed disrespect to one another on a daily basis. Obviously, since we’re divorced, it wasn’t a healthy relationship, and it went both ways, but I’m going to highlight a particular story.

We were having a party with all our friends (we were in our early twenties) and a particular friend of his invited someone I really didn’t want there. When I politely asked this friend not to bring her (there’s a whole story behind this I won’t go into) he refused. I was so angry. He shouldn’t bring people to my house when I specifically asked him not to, but instead of taking my side, my husband took his friend’s. This was a pattern of behavior in which he always put his friends first, but it culminated this time in a heated argument in front of everyone. Then I really lost my temper and punched my husband in the face. I am so not proud of this, and though it didn’t make a huge dent in my psyche at the time, I later began to recognize that my behavior was abusive. What was he going to do? If he hit me, he’d be the abuser and no one would think twice about what I had done.

So yes, in response to more of TK’s post, females can abuse just as men can. It is important for all of us, male and female, to recognize warning signs of abusive behavior in ourselves, our partner and even our children. Respect is key. Respecting those we love: husband, wife, children, friends, is imperative to giving them the love they deserve. And you certainly can’t expect them to respect you, if you don’t respect them. It has to start somewhere, so let it start with you.

The Obligatory Mommy Blog: Why Kate is a real mom . . .

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Watching CNN this morning, they ran a short story about Prince George’s first year. Now I know Kate has plenty of help. Nanny’s and all, but let me tell you what she did right before this picture was snapped. She wiped the drool from George’s chin and wiped it on her dress. A dress that probably cost more than all the dresses I own. But who cares. They’re just clothes. She did what so many of us have done and didn’t think twice about it. Food, drool, snot, spit up. Yeah it’s gross, but hey, we’ve all done it. Come on, admit it! I guess my point is in all the hullabaloo over a prince and a duke and a duchess and a legacy, they’re still just a baby, a dad, a mom and a life to be lived. Congratulations George on your first year. Happy birthday and prayers for many more!

You know you’re a Mommy when . . . Reasons #11-20

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Check here for reasons #1-10!

#11 – You’ve had a conversation that consists of “Mommy?” “What?” “Mommy?” “What?” over and over and over . . .
#12 – Your jewelry box is covered in dust because there’s no point in wearing anything your children will try to rip off you . . .
#13 – You’ve said, “Silence, minions of Zurg! You’re in the custody of the Galactic Alliance!” when the kids are too noisy . . .
#14 – You’ve had the sharp edge of a vicious Lego driven into the soft flesh of your bare foot . . .
#15 – You’re ninja-reflexes saved you when you Spidey-sense detected an object beneath your bare foot that could have been a Lego (only to discover it’s a marshmallow) . . .
#16 – You’ve cursed out packaging engineers on Christmas because of the way a toy is packaged . . .
#17 – You’ve said a prayer of thank you for a packaging engineer when you open a toy and discover someone with children has designed this toy’s packaging . . .
#18 – You know all the words to Do You Wanna Build a Snowman (and cry at the sad parts!) . . .
#19 – You’ve had to save a feather, rock, egg shell, leaf, flower, sea shell, stick, or acorn because it was the coolest bestest thing ever . . .
#20 – You’ve teared up at the words “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, Your Mommy I’ll be.” . . . (you teared up just now, didn’t you!)

Book Review – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han


Buy To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Amazon.com
Add on Goodreads

Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1442426705
ISBN-13: 978-1442426702
Amazon Review: 4.4/5 stars

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

The truth is I’m not a big fan of Contemporary. Why would I want to read about the same old stuff that I went through as a teen, or my daughter is going through, or other kids go through. I want epic. I want adventure. I want to be transported to another world. So when I saw this on the New Reads shelf at my library, my hand hesitated ever so slightly before picking it up. Once I read the blurb, I was mildly intrigued, though I would have preferred she had to save the world too. 🙂

Sans world saving, at least give me something to care about, and for the most part Han did that. Lara Jean is a likable and interesting character, though I hated the name. I don’t know why. I like Lara. I like Jean. Put ’em together and I was annoyed. The little sister is precocious and entertaining, which younger kids in books like this usually are, and big sis was a reasonable addition, if not very deep. Dad was barely-there, which I found annoying, but at least he wasn’t a dead-beat or abusive. Mom is dead, which is a big part of the story, but really it wasn’t. The story could have happened mostly the same if Mom had been present. I’m not entirely sure I how I feel about this, since I like it when characters have an “issue”, but the issue isn’t the book. But still, it felt like a not particularly important aspect of the book, though it was made important. I guess the side issue of Mom’s death made everything more complicated and dramatic, but it felt like a device to make everything more complicated and dramatic. Which I find unnecessary.

So even though I felt the missing-mom aspect was a device, I was still invested in the characters. I understood why Margot felt like she had to mother everyone. I felt for Lara Jean in her angst over the boys she crushed on finding out. And I was really hoping Kitty would get that puppy, though there are no dogs allowed in my house.

And of course the writing was pretty good. I’ll share a few of my favorites. These are favorites because they say some pretty typical things in a creative way, which is hard to do:

Kitty answers back lightning fast . . .

***

I feel a pinch in my heart.

***

My scalp tingles with gratitude.

So I’ll get the things I didn’t like out of the way. First, the idea that these two young girls, especially the oldest, takes it upon themselves to become mommy of the family when their own mom passes away was a bit of a stretch for me. Maybe it has something to do with their Korean heritage, and I’ll admit I know next to nothing about Korean-Americans, but I think we have to consider that their exposure to the Korean side of their family was portrayed as minor. If the heritage would dictate that pre-teen girls become the women of the house and do the cooking, cleaning, organizing, shopping and scheduling for the family, okay I guess, but where was the influence? Dad is white American. I can’t see my white American husband expecting my kids to take care of each other so he can work long hours. And they never question or complain about it either. Once again it felt like a vehicle to get us from Point A to Point B. Even Korean-American kids raised in this culture would be a little angsty over having to bake cupcakes for their little sister’s PTA event and make sure she gets places on time and know when her field trips are and pack her lunch every day. That’s dad’s job and I was actually appalled at the portrayal of this family as if all of this is completely normal. If it would have been highlighted that this was different (“Hey, Lara Jean! You sure take on a lot of responsibility I don’t have. Glad my mom’s not dead.”) then maybe I could have bought it, but if you think you’re going to make the average American teen feel guilty because they don’t have this load, well, trust me, I’ve tried it. No luck.

And I was less than impressed with that age old trope let’s-pretend-we’re-in-love-so-I-can-make-my-girlfriend/boyfriend-jealous. Yes, I actually have some fake love in my current MS, so it’s a little hypocritical, but this came out of left field for me and I didn’t like it. Okay, so the novel might not have progressed properly if Han didn’t use it, but I would have been more impressed if she found a way to pull it off. Especially when the whole thing starts off because Lara Jean wants to make Josh think she doesn’t like him. Here’s an idea: Tell him you don’t like him. It usually works. Seriously.

Now I’m going to share another few lines from the book I enjoyed, and take you on a tangent. Lara Jean is talking to a gay friend and I love his response:

“I just let people believe what they please. I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to quantify myself for them. I mean, you get what I’m talking about. As a biracial person, I’m sure people are always asking you what race you are, right?”

I haven’t thought of it that way before, but yes yes yes! Lucas just gets it. “Exactly. It’s like, why do you need to know?”

I hate the term “coming out”, though I have used it. And I use it in my current MS. Still, I don’t like the idea that anyone has to “quantify” themselves. Why can’t we just be people and not be defined by our sexual orientation? I won’t rant too long about that, at least not in this post, but I wanted to share that little bit. Also, in regards to heritage and race, I understand that people might find those questions annoying, but do consider if you are biracial or bicultural, that people’s interest may not be in the realm of trying to categorize you. It might be (in the case of my own interest) an effort to understand where you are coming from culturally, and to admire how amazing we humans are when we embrace and share our own cultural experiences. I will never truly know anyone’s cultural experience but my own, yet I want to know as much as I can about other’s experiences so I can learn and grow from that as well.

Moving on. Not withstanding the previously mentioned flaws, I liked this book. It was a heart warming story about a teen girl who grows in her love for her family and learns a bit about herself and what she wants from the love of a boy as well. It is well-written and kept me turning the pages to find out if Lara Jean would develop her unrequited love for Josh, break her sister’s heart, discover something in Peter beside his pretty-boy image or basically screw everything up. I won’t tell you, of course, but I will say I felt the ending to be unsatisfactory. I guess you could say the important things were wrapped up, so I wasn’t horribly disappointed, but I wanted more. And I’ll just leave it at that.

All in all, it was a cute read that wasn’t too sappy and annoying. I was really afraid I would have to read some novel about every day teen problems that aren’t really problems and end up throwing the book against the wall. I guess if there hadn’t been the missing-mom issue, it would have been that kind of book, so I can take that part back. 🙂 Anyway, if you’re looking for a light entertaining read that isn’t total fluff, I’d highly recommend this.

My review: 3/5 stars (Come on! She didn’t even slay dragons or anything!)

Trials and tribulations of a bookworm . . .

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Finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone last night. Stayed up late to do it. I just couldn’t put it down! Book review coming soon. Couldn’t wait for morning so I could hop over to the library and snag the sequel before we headed to Detroit again. 4 hours in the car = lots of reading time! But when I moved some things on the counter, I found another book! Since it’s from the library, I have to read it first. It’s the bookworm code. You never keep a library book longer than you have to! So I guess I’ll be reading Origins first. Maybe I’ll get to that stack of books I own eventually too!

We are all immigrants

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On the 4th of July, Americans celebrate our independence from Great Britain. We barbecue and light off fireworks and attend parades to commemorate the fact that . . . we are all immigrants. Well, unless you’re Native American, in which case your ancestors probably emigrated thousands of years ago, but in any case, most of our ancestors came from some other place. Yet, I think most of us seem to forget this. In light of the current debate on immigration, I think most of us definitely seem to forget this.

I guess we could debate whether this is what 4th of July is about. It’s not. It’s about all men are created equal. It’s about liberty for all. It’s about a how lot of things that come back to my original point: We are all immigrants.

Which is why I’d like to tell you a story. A true story. One about remembering what it really means to be an American.

Several years ago, I believe my daughter was a sophomore in high school, I attended one of her basketball games. It must have been the first home game of the season. I was sitting alone as my husband was home with Minion #3 who was only a baby at the time and I hadn’t really made a lot of friends in our new town even though we’d lived there for four years. (I’m a bit of a loner!) Anyway, I was sitting quietly, waiting for the game to start, observing the the people around me. There were quite a few parents I knew, said hello to, and continued to keep my own company.

Nearby, was a particular father I had seen on many occasions. His daughter, only one year younger than my own, had played soccer and basketball with Minion #1 for years. The girls were friends, and my husband and I sat by her parents during countless sporting events. I wouldn’t say we were friends, really, but they were very nice people and I believe they felt the same way about us.

This night, we were both alone, nodded our hellos, but honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to be social. I’m like that sometimes, er, a lot. So I was only too happy to hear the announcement, “Please stand for the National Anthem.” Like my fellow Americans, I stood, found the flag, and fixed my eyes upon it waiting for the music to start.

I’d like to say I make a point of always singing our National Anthem. Even when it means inflicting my less than  stellar voice on those around me. Usually we have a recording that is in a key much too high for my voice, but this was different. The key was still too high, but the song was not a recording. It was sung by the young girl I had previously mentioned. Her name is Haleemah.

Haleemah’s clear, sweet voice rang through the gym. The words of the Star Spangled Banner have always brought tears to my eyes. I’m sentimental like that. But that night was even more poignant. You see, Haleemah’s parents were not born Americans. Palestinian I believe. I don’t know. I’ve never asked. Seems like a bit of a fail on my part right now. Though the children were all born here, and speak perfect English, their parents still have the heavy accent they brought from the home country. I’m not criticizing. I can’t speak Arabic after all.

The beauty of a first generation Palestinian-American singing the words to our National Anthem in a gym filled with predominantly white, Christian Americans whose families had been in not only America, but this very town, for generation after generation was not lost on me. Tears stinging my eyes, I glanced at Haleemah’s father, and there he was, proudly watching his youngest daughter. But he was also singing. Every word. Right along with her.

Looking around the bleachers at the people sitting near me, I took in my fellow white, Christian Americans. You know, the ones I mentioned whose families dated back 150 years in this very small town. The ones who had enjoyed the advantages of political and religious freedoms their whole lives. Who benefited from a free education, from a country not bombed, terrorized, or rent by warfare. I didn’t see a single lip moving. Not even lip-synching. Just  me, Haleemah, and her Palestinian-born father.

It was a touching scene, though I felt like only a few of us were truly seeing it for what it was. We have an unbelievable gift in this country, and we need to appreciate it every day. Sing the anthem, say the pledge, honor the flag, honor our soldiers. It doesn’t take much. And maybe those things are superficial compared with the inner gratitude we should experience. I’m guessing many of the people around me that day do appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in this country. But I feel it is important to express that in meaningful ways. It’s not enough to just say to yourself, “I love my country.” Because there are people out there everyday who love it too, but they have something else to compare it to.

Haleemah went on to sing our National Anthem at nearly every boys and girls home basketball game for four seasons. She graduated this year, so we’ll probably go back to the recording, but I will always treasure hearing her sing. And I will always remember the sight of her father, hand on his heart, singing the words of a song he was not born to love, but came to love by choice, by hard work and by sacrifice.

Book Review – The Here and Now by Ann Brashares


Buy The Here and Now on Amazon.com
Add on Goodreads

Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Print Length: 258 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385736800
Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 8, 2014)
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B00ERTDJKS
Amazon Review: 3.6/5 stars

I borrowed this book from my local library

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

This book started as a solid 4 stars for me. I loved the premise. The characters were intriguing. And the writing was good. I liked some lines so much, I’m going to share them, though maybe they won’t make sense out of context, but the way the words mix together sang to me, so here goes:

The gap between what we say and what we feel is so big and dark that sometimes I think I’ll fall into it and just keep falling.

***

Already he is the drip, drip of water that carves a canyon right through the middle of me.

***

“If it was okay for me to kiss you,” he whispers, “would you want me to?”

I know I should lie. I should make this easier on both of us. But I’ve begun to tell the truth, and I am drunk on it. “The most of anything,” I whisper into the seat.

***

I am getting the hang of this, spending my questions like a millionaire.

***

Ethan claims he is some kind of supergenius expert at Gin, so when I beat him in our second game, he is so beset by rage and disbelief that he makes us play three more times, and writhes in psychological pain as I beat him every time.

***

Down goes the bucket again, into the long-abandoned memory well. I surprise myself with what comes up.

Okay, that’s all. But I loved those lines enough to write them down verbatim in a notebook and type them again for this post. I feel I do enough ranting about “bad” writing, I should give some cred to good writing as well.

On to the book!

The beginning was enticing, doling out morsels for the reader to nibble on while they progressed through the beautiful prose. There were a lot of abstracts and half-truths and opinions meted out to keep you reading to find out the whole picture. And then there was the forbidden love story between Ethan and Preena (loved the name!) Their romance was believable and progressed naturally through years of knowing each other. You wanted them to be together, even while knowing it was impossible, and seeing that it really was impossible. The sexual and emotional tension was palpable.

But then we got into specifics. This is where time travels books usually fail. I really enjoyed this book from start to finish, but my analytical-brain just wasn’t buying it. If you’re going to write a time-travel novel, you better think it through, and most in my opinion don’t. I don’t want to ruin it for you, (I’ll do that in the spoiler at the bottom) but let’s just say if you follow the time line, or even the time circles, or whatever you want to call it, then the things that happen in this novel couldn’t happen. Changing one thing changes another which changes another which means the first thing wouldn’t have happened at all thereby not affecting the other things. See what I mean? And just to be clear, once you time travel, you’re stuck. No going back.

There were a couple of other minor, minor problems. Like the fact the book is set in 2014, and Preena comes from circa 2090, but in the future people don’t understand Christmas and they talk differently. I’m not sure 80 years is enough to change things that much.

And when Preena appears in 2014 for the first time she is naked, but other people brought boxes of belongings. That was never explained, like at all. Seemed like a big hole.

Oh, and I’m getting really tired of random teens with mad hacker-skills. Ethan comes through with some pretty amazing computer hacks to save the day, but I’m just done with teens that have whatever magic skill is needed to complete the task at hand.

And Preena sees Ethan’s obituary in the paper that is brought from the future, but it’s printed the day after he supposedly dies. Pretty sure obits aren’t printed the day after your teenage son is murdered.

And last, but certainly not least, Preena’s “people” came from the future to try to stop the plague that wipes out the world. So a thousand people travel through time, but get so comfortable in their current life they no longer want to save the billions of people who die in the future? Preena’s mom lost two sons and she’s willing to stand by and not work her ass off to save them? That was probably the hardest thing to swallow. There is no comfortable life possible for me that would stop me from trying to save my kids.

Really, I did like this book. I know I talk about the negatives a lot, and just wait for the spoiler at the bottom, but the prose was beautiful, the premise was interesting and the romance was pure and emotional. I liked the characters and rooted for them. Even the “bad guy” you kind of understood where he was coming from. So I would still recommend this book, because not everyone is as picky as me when it comes to plot. If you just want to be swept away by a story, then by all means read it, but if you want things to make sense at the end, well, maybe try something else.

My review: 3/5 stars (I’d have given it a 4 if it weren’t for plot holes)

And now for the spoiler!!!

***SPOILER*** So let’s just walk through this a little bit. If Preena changes the future and they stop or alter the plague that kills billions, then Preena will have no reason to come back in time and then she won’t change the future. Time travel novels always do this and it drives me insane. Why can’t they just mention, “Hey, when we get to the future we have to tell our future selves that we will be forced to give up our lives and time-travel or everyone dies.” Because, if some old woman showed up claiming to be me and told me that I’d jump right in the time travel device, right? But whatever. Say Preena is more gullible and noble than me, so she does. Supposedly when Baltos time-travels, he kills not only Mona so he can protect his family’s oil wealth, but also kills Ethan, who invented time travel. If Ethan dies, he can’t invent time travel, so how does Baltos time travel in order to kill him? Not to mention, if Baltos kills Mona, saves his family’s oil wealth, then he won’t have a reason to time travel either because he only did it to save his family’s business. Oh, and you can’t go back, so forget that. You’re stuck. And you can only travel back to 2010 for some reason, so Baltos hangs around for 4 years until he finally kills Mona? Why? This is where I think time-travel novels trip up. They place too much importance on the changing of time, thereby negating the believability of their premise to begin with. Limit what you change, and the reader will believe it. Alter too many things and you run into a hornets nest of possibilities. ***SPOILER OVER***

Movie Review – The Fault in Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars on IMDB

Directed by Josh Boone
Produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen
Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Based on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Starring:
Shailene Woodley
Ansel Elgort
Nat Wolff
Laura Dern
Sam Trammell
Willem Dafoe

Music by Mike Mogis & Nate Walcott
Cinematography: Ben Richardson
Edited by Robb Sullivan
Production company: Temple Hill Entertainment
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Running time: 125 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $12 million
Box office: $166,485,097

Author’s Note: Written Thursday night at about 11pm

I lied. This is not a movie review. I just got back from seeing John Green’s amazing novel portrayed on screen, and I just can’t. I can’t. I’ve read a few reviews, and they point out imperfections, but I didn’t need perfect. I just needed to be swept away. And I was.

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once. – Hazel Lancaster – The Fault in Our Stars

If you haven’t seen it, go do so. Better yet, go read the book. Maybe you’ll be finished before the movie is out of theaters. Then you can go see it and cry your eyes out with strangers like I did. Minions #1 & 2 were gone, no babysitter so hubby had to stay home with kiddies. All. Alone. Crying. Of course, this is how I read the book, so I guess it’s fitting.

No, I’m not going to talk about the movie. If you don’t go see it, you’re missing out and I can’t help you. If you haven’t read the book, well, same, but hey, I guess we all miss out on some things. I realize I have never read Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl. How does any American girl get through life without having read that book? I’m not sure how I did, but I need to rectify it.

That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt. – Augustus Waters – The Fault in Our Stars

What I want to talk about is oblivion. Like Augustus, I fear it. I fear it with every fiber of my being. That feeling that I was born to be special, to achieve, to be remembered. It is my hamartia—my fatal flaw. My expectations hamper my every day happiness, and yet I seek to appease its insatiable desire for recognition, for achievement, for validation.

You know, it’s kid stuff, but I always thought my obituary would be in all the newspapers, that I’d have a story worth telling. I always had this secret suspicion that I was special. – Augustus Waters – The Fault in Our Stars

And what is more tragic? Gus’s young life cut short before he had a chance to face down oblivion? Or someone like me who’s had thirty-eight years to show that cruel fate who’s boss and come up short? Both, I guess. Unused potential is unused potential. Of course, Gus is fictional, but still, how many of you know someone who died too young? Whether it’s cancer or a car accident or suicide. I could make a list right now, but you wouldn’t know them, and that’s not the purpose of this post. They are remembered in my heart, and the hearts of others, and that is enough.

I just want to be enough for you, but I never can be. This can never be enough for you. But this is all you get. You get me, and your family, and this world. This is your life. I’m sorry if it sucks. But you’re not going to be an NBA star, and you’re not going to hunt Nazis. – Hazel Lancaster – The Fault in Our Stars

Enough. Is it ever enough? For people like me and Gus, probably not. But we need our Hazel Graces to pull us back to reality. It doesn’t mean we will stop fighting oblivion. It just means, maybe for a few minutes now and then, we’ll realize what we have, and that it is enough.

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I’d like to leave you with one last thought from John Green’s novel. It is apropos, considering this is exactly how I felt after finishing The Fault in Our Stars. Strangely enough, on both accounts.

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal – Hazel Lancaster – The Fault in Our Stars