The Fault in Our Stars Summary
The Fault in Our Stars is a young adult novel narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager with thyroid cancer.
- Hazel meets Augustus Waters, who lost a leg to bone cancer, at a support group for teenage cancer patients, and the two begin dating.
- Augustus and Hazel take a trip to Amsterdam, where they track down Peter Van Houten, the author of Hazel's favorite book, An Imperial Affliction.
- Augustus reveals that his cancer has returned, and he dies not long after. Hazel reads a eulogy Augustus had been writing for her before he died and reflects that she is happy to have chosen him.
Last Updated on May 27, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1283
The protagonist and narrator of The Fault in Our Stars is a teenage girl, Hazel Grace Lancaster. At sixteen, she is suffering from thyroid cancer and has trouble with her lungs. At the urging of her mother, who believes her to be depressed, Hazel attends a weekly support group, which she dislikes intensely, as she does not trust the “sharing” process. Her only friend in the group is Isaac, who has eye cancer.
One week, Hazel arrives at the support group to find that Isaac has brought a friend, Augustus. Hazel and Augustus, who is in recovery from osteosarcoma, are instantly attracted to one another. They chat after the meeting, and Augustus asks Hazel if she would like to come home with him and watch a movie. He pulls out a cigarette, at which Hazel is disgusted, until Augustus says that the cigarette is a “metaphor” and he never actually lights it. Hazel is impressed by this and agrees to go home with him.
The pair quickly bond. Augustus lends Hazel a book, The Price of Dawn. Hazel’s favorite book is An Imperial Affliction, whose unresolved ending drives her to distraction. She shares the book with Augustus. The novel is about a girl, Anna, who suffers from blood cancer; the story ends mid-sentence and is the only novel by the reclusive Peter Van Houten. Hazel tells Augustus that he can see her again when he has finished An Imperial Affliction. Soon afterwards, Augustus texts to say he has finished the book and is also desperate to know why it ends so abruptly. When she calls him back, Isaac is with him, sobbing violently. Isaac’s girlfriend, Monica, has broken up with him, and he is about to have surgery to remove his remaining eye, which will leave him blind.
A week later, Augustus reveals that he has made contact with Peter Van Houten by email. He gives Hazel the email address, and Hazel writes a lengthy email asking Van Houten about the ending of the book. Augustus and Hazel talk more by telephone, and Augustus reveals that his ex-girlfriend, Caroline Mathers, died from cancer.
Hazel goes to visit the now-blind Isaac in the hospital. The following day, she receives an email from Van Houten, who has invited her to visit him if she is ever in Amsterdam. Hazel’s parents could never afford this, but Augustus reveals that his “wish” from the Genie Foundation for sick children has never been used. He tells Hazel that he will use his wish now to enable them both to go to Amsterdam.
Hazel is confused by her feelings for Augustus. She explains to her friend Kaitlyn that she fears hurting him, as his ex-girlfriend did, and tells Augustus that she doesn’t want to kiss him for this reason.
Shortly after this, Hazel suffers a blinding headache and is taken to the ICU. Her lungs have filled with fluid, and she is there for a few days. Augustus stays in the waiting room, though she will not let him see her in her hospital room. When she sees him, he explains that although their trip to Amsterdam must now be postponed, he has received a letter from Peter Van Houten.
Hazel’s doctors believe that the trip to Amsterdam would be too much for her. However, Hazel neglects to tell Van Houten this and receives an email from his assistant stating that the trip has been arranged. As a compromise measure, it is decided that Hazel and Augustus can visit Amsterdam after all, provided that Hazel’s mother accompanies them.
Amsterdam is beautiful, but the meeting with Peter Van Houten is not what Hazel was expecting. They discover that he is a disgruntled alcoholic, and he refuses to clarify the ending of his book when Hazel asks him about it. His assistant, Lidewij, tries to redeem the trip by taking Hazel and Augustus on a tour of Amsterdam, including a visit to Anne Frank’s house. Despite Hazel’s earlier misgivings, she is delighted when Augustus kisses her, and the pair later make love at their hotel.
The following day, however, Augustus confesses that a recent PET scan shows that his cancer has returned. At this point, the pair are avowedly in love with one another, and Hazel is devastated by this information. Hazel makes Augustus promise to fight against this cancer, and the young couple kiss again.
At home once more in Indianapolis, Augustus and Hazel reunite with Isaac and discuss the unfairness of their situations. Isaac and Augustus decide to throw eggs at Monica’s car; Hazel takes a photograph of them, which, it later transpires, is the last photograph she will ever take of Augustus. Shortly after this, Augustus is rushed to the hospital. His mother will not allow Hazel to visit him, stating that only family can see him at this time.
Augustus quickly begins deteriorating. He says he wants to write a sequel to Van Houten’s book for Hazel, but he is too tired to do so. The pair spend all their time together, but their illnesses loom large in their minds. Hazel asks Augustus to write her obituary for her.
When Hazel’s phone rings at two o’clock in the morning, she is petrified that Augustus has died, but it is Augustus, who tells her that he is at a gas station and begs her to help him. When she arrives, he is in his car, having vomited, and his gastrostomy tube appears to be infected. Hazel promptly calls an ambulance.
Following this hospital visit, Augustus is largely confined to bed. Hazel becomes closer to Augustus’s family, who recognize how much she means to their son. Against her parents’ wishes, Hazel attends a “prefuneral” Augustus has arranged for himself, at which Isaac and Hazel both deliver eulogies for Augustus. Augustus dies shortly after this, and Hazel learns of his death from his parents.
Peter Van Houten comes to Augustus’s funeral. He tries to speak to Hazel, but Hazel, devastated by Augustus’s death and burial, refuses to listen, telling him that he is an alcoholic and she doesn’t want to hear what he has to say. The following day, he waits for her in her car and tells him that he’s sorry the Amsterdam trip was not ideal. He explains that his daughter died from cancer. Hazel suggests that he should write another novel, but Van Houten is deep in alcoholism as a result of his loss and seems unable to do so.
Isaac tells Hazel that Augustus had been writing something for her. Excited by this, she goes to Augustus’s house, but cannot find anything. Augustus’s father notes that some pages had been torn out of a notebook Augustus was using.
Hazel tells her parents that she wants them to live fully after her death. She is pleased when her mother explains that she is working on a master’s degree in social work and training to become a support group leader herself.
The following morning, when talking to Kaitlyn, it occurs to Hazel that the missing pages from Augustus’s notebook might have been sent to Van Houten. Lidewij goes to investigate and sends Hazel an email with four attachments. The attachments are scans of the eulogy Augustus had written for Hazel, in which he says that he hopes Hazel is happy with the choices she has made in life.
As the book ends, Hazel considers Augustus’s eulogy and decides that she is happy. She mourns that she and Augustus will not have a future, but she is grateful for the time they were able to share together.
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