Hazel was only 13 when diagnosed with Stage IV Thyroid Cancer, and now that she is 16 all she wants is to be a normal teenage with a normal life. But being a “kid with cancer” there is no such thing as normal. She feels disconnected to her pre-cancer friends and finds comfort in reading and being a hermit. Forced to go to a Cancer Kid Support Group, she watches the revolving door as new faces enter the group and others pass away. Then one day, her world is turned upside down by the smile of the new boy in the group. Augustus Waters shows Hazel how to live and open herself up to the love of others, despite of her “cancertastic” life.
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-525-47881-2. (hardback). Ages 14+
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E . SmithSeventeen year-old Hadley Smith has been dreading this day for months. She has no desire to go to London and not only watch her father remarry, but participate in the ceremony by being a bridesmaid to a future step-mother she has never even met. Mad at her dad for breaking up their family and mad at her mom for making her go see it, Hadley’s morning seems like a comedy of errors that makes her miss her flight by four minutes. Then fate intervenes in the form of a young man named Oliver. He is charming, sweet and on her new flight to London. In the following twenty-four hours Hadley learns what it means to love, lose and accept that it is ok to move on. But what about Oliver and was it really love at first sight?
Smith, Jennifer E . The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-316-12238-2. (hardback). Ages 13+
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What I loved about both of these stories is that love can find you even when you are least expecting it. Hadley and Hazel are two very different young women, both with their own battles and unique life stories. Hazel’s life has been changed forever by her cancer; she has been through more than most girls her age and even many who are older. She would be perfectly content spending her time at home with her parents. But her mom makes go to the support group. There is where she meets Augustus, but she doesn’t expect to have a relationship. The last thing she probably expected was to fall head over heels for him. But Augustus understands her, and the reality of being a “cancer kid.” Hadley’s world has been turned upside down by her parent’s divorce. She feels betrayed that her dad moved across the ocean and fell in love with another woman. Then, when she least expects it, her mom suddenly finds peace and begins to move on. Hadley has spent so much time and energy hating her dad for breaking up their family and then at her mom by making her go and participate in the wedding. Even though it means going to London for the first time, she just can’t see any joy in the experience. Unlike most bridesmaids, meeting a man is the last thing on her mind. So when she meets Oliver, a young Brit, she even wonders if she should just blow him off. But fate seems to have other ideas for her, not only is he sweet and on her flight, but also on her row. After spending all night talking, they get separated as they go through customs. It is only as Hadley is searching for him at the exit that she realizes that she only knows a little bit about where he was going and why. All they exchanged before parting was a kiss, not even a telephone number or email address. As she races to the church for the wedding, and even after during pictures she realizes that she can’t stop thinking about Oliver and decides that she has to find him. It is only after she returns from her search, hurting worse than before she left , that Hadley is able to open up to her dad and begin the process of healing herself.
Both Hadley and Hazel have their lives changed in a brief time by a boy, and are then separated from them in unexpected ways. Hazel’s separation is all too permanent, but you are left to wonder what will become of Hadley and Oliver and will they ever see each other again. I have to believe that they do, even if they don’t end up living happily ever after.