The Fault in Our Past Admirations
By Kirstyn Corbett
I curled in on myself, tightening my arms around my bent legs and tucking my chin into my galaxy-printed leggings. The fetal position I cowered in on the teal rug of my childhood bedroom did nothing to protect me from the pain that splintered through my chest and sent tears cresting down my prepubescent cheeks—the heartbreak was too much for my eleven-year-old self to endure. How would I succumb to this pain and build myself back up? How would I go on with my life after Gus had died?
Well for starters, I could have just closed the book. My foxed copy of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was an overdue resident in my middle school backpack, but I can’t fault the revolutionary-for-its-time novel for my naive admiration of the writer. Numerous John Green novels plastered the wooden shelves of my makeshift bookshelf—Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines. All of them.
I was intoxicated by the pretentious taste each of Green’s novels left lingering on my tongue, and I was fascinated by the stories I expected my teenage years to mirror. Well, thank goodness it didn’t. Nothing says a happy life like a cancer diagnosis with an equally-sick, witty love interest that whisks you away on a worldwide trip just to kick the bucket in the end, right?
John Green’s novels and I had a good run as an impressionable preteen who favored Tumblr and tragedies over reality. But it was time we split up, for we no longer shared values. I now yearned for depth and dynamic characters with development and progress and lessons bestowed on the reader. And John Green stayed John Green.
From the last time I hung up my Forever 21 flower crown, I have yet to reach for The Fault in Our Stars—and for that matter, I haven’t again read any of his novels whose depth rivaled that of the puddle that forms in the pothole outside my apartment window.
Today, I pride myself on my taste in romance novels being more thought-provoking and realistic, more philosophical and informative—or maybe just smuttier. That’s certainly something John Green’s novels never covered.
Even when I now roam the paperback section of my local consignment store, I look on with fondness and an upturned left corner of my lip when I spot that azure blue dust jacket with cartoonish clouds on the front cover. My eyes glimmer with nostalgia as my now-unbitten fingernails flip through the naive love story only a preteen could love. With each turn of a page, I’m taken back to the admiration I had for Hazel Grace’s pessimistic attitude and oh-well outlook on life. I associate chapters with stages of my childhood, each progression of Hazel Grace’s tale telling the story of my childhood in turn.
And then I set it back on the shelf. I turn and reach for the book with a cover of a half-naked man with untamed hair. That’s more like it—you see, I’m now a connoisseur of much more serious literature.