Chapter 2 Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 550

Augustus had one of his legs amputated during his cancer treatment, and his prosthetic leg makes him a terrible driver. As he drives Hazel to his house, the two of them agree that he was probably given his license as a “Cancer Perk.” According to Hazel:

Cancer Perks are little...

(The entire section contains 550 words.)

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Augustus had one of his legs amputated during his cancer treatment, and his prosthetic leg makes him a terrible driver. As he drives Hazel to his house, the two of them agree that he was probably given his license as a “Cancer Perk.” According to Hazel:

Cancer Perks are little things that cancer kids get that regular kids don’t: basketballs signed by sports heroes, free passes on late homework, unearned driver’s licenses, etc.

Hazel wants to know about Augustus’s history of cancer, but she does not want to ask depressing questions. Instead she asks whether he goes to school. Among cancer kids, this is a polite way of asking about “approximate survival expectations” because parents usually remove kids from school when it seems clear they are going to die.

Augustus goes to high school but is only a sophomore at seventeen. When he learns that Hazel has been out of school for three years, he is aghast. She tells him her story, which she sarcastically calls a “Cancer Miracle.” She got diagnosed at thirteen, nearly drowned in her own lung fluid at fourteen, and then suddenly responded to an experimental drug. She still has terminal cancer, and her “lungs…suck at being lungs.” Her doctors do not know how much longer she will live, but her cancer has not grown worse in two years.

After hearing this story, Augustus comments that Hazel should go back to school. She explains that she got her GED, which means she cannot return to high school. Instead she takes classes at community college. He jokes that this must be why she has such an “aura of sophistication.”

At Augustus’s house, Hazel meets his parents, a friendly but cheesy pair who adorn their home with embroidered quotations like, “True Love Is Born from Hard Times” and "Without Pain, How Could We Know Joy?" Augustus says that they call these quotations Encouragements.

Hazel finds Augustus’s parents silly, but she likes them anyway. They invite her to dinner, and she says that she is a vegetarian. “I want to minimize the number of deaths I am responsible for,” she explains.

After this conversation, Augustus shows Hazel his room, which is full of signed Cancer Perk basketballs. He says that he used to be a basketball player before he got his leg amputated. However, he no longer particularly likes the game.  

Augustus asks Hazel to tell him about herself, and she finds it difficult to answer. She spends most of her time being sick and that leaves little room for any other interests. Eventually she settles on saying she likes to read, and she tells him about her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. The author of that story, Peter Van Houten, seems to understand Hazel better than anyone she has met in real life. Augustus promises to read the book if she will read his personal favorite, a silly novelization of a video game called The Price of Dawn. Hazel accepts the deal.

Hazel and Augustus watch the movie V for Vendetta, which Hazel pretends to like, and they eat dinner together. At the end of the evening, Augustus asks to see her again. She acts coy, telling him that she will call him after she finishes reading the book he loaned her.

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