In today's society, it is nearly impossible for teens to find a role model among the emaciated models and unrealistic characters of reality television shows and movies. Fortunately, authors of the twenty-first century are conjuring up female characters worthy of discussion and admiration. I've decided to highlight one of these characters every week in my newest meme, Queens of Literature. Each post will focus on a fictional heroine from a book I have read who possesses the qualities of a truly incredible woman.
The girl who is more than the illness that haunts her.
Who is she?
Hazel Grace, from John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, is incredible. A three-year cancer survivor, Hazel lives life barely hanging on. This doesn't stop her from being who she is, to her core. I wish I had her self confidence and selflessness. Even with the side effects of her terrible illness, she focuses on those around her. Hazel is also extremely intelligence and she takes pride in loving literature and being well spoken. She is both hilarious and witty, deep and full of profound ideas.
I chose a picture I found on deviantart.com to represent Hazel because I didn't want to choose an actress for her. Right now, she exists only in my mind, and I don't want the media to steal any or her spark or true personality by turning her into someone else. I worry about what the movie adaptation of this novel will do to the story.
Much of my life had been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me, so I knew what Augustus was doing. You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but a Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.
When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I'd been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn't get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. The nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn't even speak, so I held up nine fingers.
Later, after they'd given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, "You know how I know you're a fighter? You called a ten a nine."
"“We are literally in the heart of Jesus," he said. "I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literaly in the heart of Jesus."
"Someone should tell Jesus," I said. "I mean, it's gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart."
I take quite a lot of pride in not knowing what's cool.
I liked Augustus Waters. I really, really, really liked him. I liked the way his story ended with someone else. I liked his voice. I liked that he took existentially fraught free throws. I liked that he was a tenured professor in the Department of Slightly Crooked Smiles with a dual appointment in the Department of Having a Voice That Made My Skin Feel More Like Skin. And I liked that he had two names. I've always liked people with two names, because you get to make up your mind what you call them: Gus or Augustus?