The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

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Chapter 5 Summary

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For a week, Augustus does not call Hazel. She wants to talk to him, but since she was the last one to call him, she stubbornly insists to herself that it is his turn. She goes through all her normal activities, trying not to worry about the PET scan she has scheduled to check on the tumors in her lungs in a few weeks. She is feeling a lot of aches and pains lately, but she tells herself that worrying does not help. She worries anyway, thinking, "Worry is yet another side effect of dying."

When Augustus finally calls, he reveals huge news: he has managed to contact Peter Van Houten, the author of An Imperial Affliction. Augustus reads Hazel a letter he has received from Van Houten and then gives her an e-mail address of Van Houten's assistant. Hazel thinks this is “the best gift ever.”

That evening, Hazel spends hours crafting an e-mail to Van Houten. In it, she explains that his book has been an important part of her life for the three years she has spent living with cancer. Then she poses a series of questions about what happens after the abrupt ending of his novel. 

After sending her e-mail, Hazel calls Augustus and talks with him until the early hours of the morning. They chat about previous relationships, and Augustus mentions that he had a girlfriend fairly recently. When Hazel asks more about this, he says, “Caroline is no longer suffering from personhood.” In other words, she is dead.

For several days, Hazel receives no reply to her e-mail to Van Houten. She goes to her college classes, and she visits Isaac in the hospital after he has surgery to remove his one remaining eye. He seems more upset about his break-up with his girlfriend than his newfound blindness.

The day after Isaac’s surgery, Hazel receives a reply from Van Houten. In it, he thanks her for her kind words about his novel but says that he cannot answer her questions lest she publish them on the Internet. He invites her to come to Amsterdam in person if she really wants to know. She shouts in frustration, and her mother rushes in to find out what is wrong.

When Hazel’s mother hears about the invitation to Amsterdam, she seems sad. She would do almost anything for her dying daughter, but Hazel’s medical bills have taken up all of the family savings. There is no way they can afford to send Hazel on a trip to the Netherlands.

The next time Hazel speaks to Augustus, he suggests talking to the Genie Foundation, a charity group that grants wishes to cancer kids. She admits that she used her Wish on Disney World back when she was thirteen. He teases her for using up her Wish on a “cliché.”

A few days later, Augustus shows up at Hazel’s house wearing an orange basketball jersey and carrying orange tulips. He comments nonchalantly that orange is the color of the Dutch flag, then takes her on a picnic next to a sculpture by a Dutch artist. During the picnic, he reveals that he has been saving his Wish. He has asked the Genie Foundation to send him to Amsterdam to meet the author of An Imperial Affliction. He adds that, naturally, he asked the Genies to allow him a traveling companion, the girl who introduced him to the book.

When Hazel finds out that she gets to go to Amsterdam, she is thrilled. Then Augustus touches her face, and she tenses up. Neither of them mentions this, but the picnic ends awkwardly.

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