Monday, April 15, 2013
Fault in Our Stars vs Inside Out and Back Again
I had read Fault in Our Stars prior to this duel. Considering I cried for the last few chapters of Fault in our Stars, I was biased towards it for evoking such feelings in my emotionally stagnant self. Inside Out and Back Again had an uphill battle for me, because I've never been a fan of books that were written in verse. For me, the depth just isn't there for the reader to truly connect with the characters. As Arlene once taught me, people read books for different reasons and they go through different doors to enter a story. I go through the doorway of character development and if verse doesn't develop a realistic character for me then all is lost. That’s why I was surprised when Lai’s novel made me care about Ha. Ha is an authentic character that took me through her journey of immigration without making me feel like an outsider. I've read many books about immigration, and with each I felt like I was the odd woman out. It seemed as if there was a wall between the character and I, like unless I wore the badge of having gone through immigration I couldn't truly understand the character’s plight. I felt like Lai didn't care whether or not I could relate to her character’s story, but that I could find something about myself in Ha, which was her deep connection to family. In the end, the book was a quick poignant read, but it couldn't overtake Fault in Our Stars.
John Green has a talent that many YA novelists have to force, which is that he can submerge himself in whatever character he is writing from the perspective of and he’s believable. Hazel reminds me of a couple students I've had the great experience of teaching, they did not have terminal cancer, but they had her wit and charm. The voice of Hazel is straight up; she doesn't hide behind pretense and says it like it is. I guess when you could die at any time, there is no point sugar coating life. Her wit, displayed prominently when she describes her support group, is intoxicating. It was difficult to put the book down. She talks about death like I talk about what I did this past weekend. Death and cancer aren't topics I’m well versed in, I shy away from them and separate myself from the feelings they involve. In Green’s novel there is no hiding, just like Hazel, he doesn't try to make you feel better about the topic. When Augustus enters the support group, I thought the story was just going to be another teen angst love story with a different spin. Instead, it was the painful journey of two teenagers who knew their mortality and wanted to minimize the damage of their deaths on the people they loved. The love story was raw and bittersweet. It was beautiful to watch them give into their feelings for each other, but we all knew the inevitable was going to happen. I just didn't think it would be a snot fest that required Kleenex and my sleeve to get through. It’ll be one of those novels that will stay with me for a very long time. Thus, Fault in Our Stars is my vote to continue.