I'm sure all of you felt different things as you read the title of this blog. What does a NY Times Best Seller have to do with diabetes? Does this girl have cancer? Who cares what she has to say about this book? Or you're feeling what I'm feeling: that I have no place to speak to this book or its content because no, I do not have cancer and have never closely known someone who has died from it. But I've decided to take a crack at it anyway. And yes, it will circle back to diabetes, like all my blogs do eventually.
Just as a preemptive disclaimer, I do NOT in any way, shape, or form think that diabetes and cancer are medically and/or psychologically the same. I don't like to rob any chronic condition of its unique characteristics by comparing it side by side to another one. The reason that I am writing about my response to this book is that there are certain emotions that are awoken by living with certain chronic illnesses, and that is the one comparison I will admit to making. That being said, I shall continue.
Part of the reason that I began my amateur blogging career is because I find power in writing. I also find power in the truth. I also find a hell of a lot of anger in myself when I see, hear, and read stories and advertisements that portray kids with diabetes as suffering, out of control, sickly, and doomed. Even when we are portrayed as heroes. While being a hero is certainly an honor (to some, not all), in my opinion honesty trumps BS everytime. If you have diabetes, you are still you. You haven't become diabetes. Therefore yes, you may become strong. You may also become incredibly weak. And maybe you are transformed into a hero, or maybe you decide not to take care of yourself and become sickly. But to generalize and to say every person who is diagnosed with diabetes is suddenly stamped with a cookie-cutter personality of a "sick person" is just as unfair as being racist or buying into stereotypes.
And so I circle back to The Fault in Our Stars. Now, this post can serve two purposes (besides, of course, enjoying my beautifully eloquent writing): 1) it can serve as an amateur review of the novel through the eyes of a diabetic, if you've read it or 2) an encouragement to read it, for the sake of your diabetes. If you're like me in that you don't enjoy the depersonalizing and generalizing that often comes at you from the world, you will enjoy this book. Green does an excellent job at one thing in specific: being honest. He treats his characters with dignity, and approaches the concepts of medicine, death, guilt, and family through the eyes of a teenager who has cancer. Now while, as I said before, diabetes doesn't = cancer, there is something relatable about reading a novel through the eyes of a teenager with a terminal illness (who you are constantly reminded is first and foremost a teenager). The snarky humor, the raw feelings, and the desperation are all real. The book is comforting and refreshing if you're a young adult with diabetes who's dealt with condescending nurses, insensitive doctors, and other presumptuous adults. This is something we've all dealt with at one point or another, before we find our perfect match of a hospital or doctors' office.
So if you take anything from my rambling appreciation of the brilliant John Green and his work, let it be this: while this novel may be sad (heartbreaking, really), it also has elements of comfort and dark humor that you will be able to relate to as a type 1 diabetic. And for you non-diabetics out there (or all people out there, really): always pay attention to who people are. A person is a person is a person, before they are someone with diabetes, or someone with cancer, or someone with asthma. We should all be judged by who we are, not what we have.