Narration, Authorship, and Memorial in John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”

(This post contains spoilers for The Fault in Our Stars… also, I wrote this as part of my application for MFA programs in spring 2017—and it worked!) Upon a first read, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2012) might seem to be chiefly concerned with death. Indeed, the gut-wrenching novel about star-crossed teens is filled with morbidity and mortality—it has to be, for it is about terminal cancer. Hazel Grace Lancaster, bright and practical, knows that sand is falling through the hourglass of her short life. There’s no question that she will die, it’s when she will, likely when the miracle drug trial she is on fails to work or loses funding or she contracts an illness that would fatally cripple her compromised immune system. When Hazel meets Augustus Waters, aka Gus, at a church-basement support group for kids with cancer, she is intrigued by his easygoing-yet-blunt attitude. Gus smashes the defense-mechanism cage where Hazel guards her love and trust captive. Earlier Grace confessed to her mother that, “I’m like. Like. I’m a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” (Green 99). Later, Gus...

Book Review of “Joe Gould’s Teeth” by Jill Lepore

I have never really been a nonfiction person. Part of it is, I just love fiction. I’m fascinated by storytelling, dramatic structure, conflict, tension, and the hero’s journey. Real life, it’s always seemed, just isn’t full of that stuff. How can you manipulate reality—facts, data, artifacts, things that are evidence of what really happened—into a compelling story that is just as riveting as something written by Donna Tartt or Stephen King or Zadie Smith? Devouring Jill Lepore’s  one night in one sitting is pushing me on the path of nonfiction. In this book review of Jill Lepore’s , I’ll tell you all about how this slim book-length essay dug into the facts and crafted a suspenseful, moving, and dramatic narrative exploring medical ethics and the literary world in general. Premise In the 1940s, infamous New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell wrote a profile in the magazine about a man named Joe Gould. A writer, a sociologist, an historian, Joe Gould brushed elbows with some of the most renowned authors and artists of the Modernist movement. He counted Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, Millen Brand, and more as his friends. Most notably, Gould called himself an oral historian because he was working on his magnum...

Book Review of Kenneth Oppel’s “The Nest”

Last weekend I did the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, a twice-yearly, one-day reading marathon. It was my first time participating, and I really didn’t know what to expect. But I needed some momentum with my reading, and I also wanted to show solidarity with fellow book bloggers, librarians, writers, and readers. I learned that the key was to have a huge pile of books pre-selected for the occasion so that once you finished a book, it required virtually no decision-making to find another one to read. It was simply a matter of looking at the pile and selecting a book you felt like reading at the time. In the end, I read four books. Four books in 24-hours. They included “Lumberjanes, Vol. 2”, “Wytches”,” “Audacity, and the novel I’m going to talk to you about today, “The Nest”. When I finished “The Nest” sometime before noon, I felt shaken, shattered with how much it teased out some of my secret fears and anxieties. As a person with a disability/chronic illness, its themes were immediate to issues I have with my identity as a “sick kid.” It was a nearly upsetting read, but ultimately, it made me feel hopeful and helped me...

Books about Bipolar Moms

Recently I was feeling really bummed out. I was talking to my best friend on the phone and explaining that usually I start to tune a novel or premise out when it’s about kids or pregnancy. First of all I tend to prefer stories that deal with people my age or younger, and I’m not really ashamed of that; I think it’s natural to want to read about people who have had the same experiences you have or are about to experience them. But I also find it harder to find stories about women in their late twenties like me but without kids/children/pregnancy. I think this is going to be a big problem I will continue to face. My horrible secret—the one that makes me feel like less of a woman, like there’s something horribly wrong with me and this is why I don’t have a Happily Ever After by now, like men can see through me and deem me unfit for procreation—is that I’m not really sure I want kids. I think I’d be a terrible mom—I don’t handle crises well, I find it hard to sugar-coat a situation or not shoot from the hip giving people advice, and most...

Male Bipolar Characters in Bipolar Romance Novels

Being bipolar myself, I have a natural interest in reading stories about mental illness in fiction and nonfiction. My mental illness shelf on Goodreads is one of my most populated. So today I want to talk a little bit about some of these bipolar characters in fiction. Who are they? How is their illness expressed? And where are their female counterparts? One of the frequent tropes I see, especially in romance-driven fiction, is the bipolar male dream boy. I just finished  and it left me devastated for Theodore, the teen male lead with bipolar disorder. I get very protective about people like me, people who struggle with mental illness, so whenever I read about or see them in pain, it hurts. It feels personal, like it’s happening to me. I imagine this is somewhat akin to twin-sense or when twins can feel pain in the other twin. So Niven’s novel really upset me so, so bad. Yet I think the presentation of bipolar disorder was actually fairly appropriate. She could have made him into the “Manic-Pixie-Dream-Boy” a la Augustus Waters, but she didn’t. Theo’s illness was never romanticized or made out to be something the female lead, Violet, was attracted...

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Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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