I’ve done 11 of these. Eleven blog posts, ranting and raging at Green’s inept writing, the shallow, hideous pretentiousness of his characters, and a shocking lack of consistency from one paragraph to another.
Eleven times I’ve done this for you over the course of 4 months. And what chapter are we on now?
Out of 25.
Lord, give me strength, because I am not feeling it.
But we have to get our heroes to Amsterdam someday, and they’ve been trying for the last 3 chapters to make it happen. Though anyone with half a brain has known they’re going since before it was even mentioned, Green chooses to pretend — again — that it’s still up in the air, beginning this chapter with a meeting between Sunshine and her doctors.
We had a big Cancer Team Meeting a couple days later. Every so often, a bunch of doctors and social workers and physical therapists and whoever else got together around a big table in a conference room and discussed my situation. (Not the Augustus Waters situation or the Amsterdam situation. The cancer situation.)
I’m already annoyed.
Everyone got there and made a big show of turning off their pagers and everything so it would be all about me
Don’t worry, Sunshine. It’s always about you.
“Well, we know from other patients that most tumors eventually evolve a way to grow in spite of Phalanxifor, but if that were the case, we’d see tumor growth on the scans, which we don’t see. So it’s not that yet.”
Yet, I thought.
You know, Green, usually when people do the “insert ‘yet’ as a sour note to punctuate a fairly positive statement” thing, they do that when the “yet” hasn’t already been said outright, because then it’s pointless and obvious, you stupid talentless hack —
Luckily, the Magical Plot Cancer has decided to leave for the moment, stranding us at the end of a plot cul-de-sac with no option but to turn around and go back the way we came, retreading the same dull ground: Sunshine’s sick, she’s angsty about being sick, will they go to Amsterdam?, of course they will, ad nauseum. It’s like watching Groundhog Day, only I’m the one who can’t escape.
Let’s slog down Memory Lane, shall we?
My dad started crying a little. I didn’t look over at him, but no one said anything for a long time, so his hiccuping cry was the only sound in the room.
I hated hurting him. Most of the time, I could forget about it, but the inexorable truth is this: They might be glad to have me around, but I was the alpha and the omega of my parents’ suffering.
On our left, we have the “Sunshine is a grenade scene” again. It’s a lot less moving this time around. Maybe my heart has hardened from being asked too often to care about boring or useless characters, but there’s only so much I can bring myself to feel about these parents anymore, when we know it’s not going to change how Sunshine treats them (badly), nor does it inform their behavior in any meaningful way. I’m sick of mourning the wasted potential, I guess.
Anyway, eventually we decided to keep things the same only with more frequent fluid drainings. At the end, I asked if I could travel to Amsterdam, and Dr. Simons actually and literally laughed, but then Dr. Maria said, “Why not?” And Simons said, dubiously, “Why not?” And Dr. Maria said, “Yeah, I don’t see why not. They’ve got oxygen on the planes, after all.” Dr. Simons said, “Are they just going to gate-check a BiPAP?” And Maria said, “Yeah, or have one waiting for her.”
“Placing a patient—one of the most promising Phalanxifor survivors, no less—an eight-hour flight from the only physicians intimately familiar with her case? That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Dr. Maria shrugged. “It would increase some risks,” she acknowledged, but then turned to me and said, “But it’s your life.”
It’s your life to throw away at 17 years old! Seriously, it’s just meeting an author (who I’m still not convinced really invited you). I’m an English major who poses as a drunk librarian in order to review books in my spare time, and I’m saying it’s not worth the expense or risk. This Dr. Simons seems like the only smart person in the room.
But I hope you’re ready for the rest of this chapter to be a back-and-forth about the viability of Amsterdam that is wasting our time because of course they’re going to Amsterdam!
“I can’t go to Amsterdam. One of my doctors thinks it’s a bad idea.”
He was quiet for a second. “God,” he said. “I should’ve just paid for it myself. Should’ve just taken you straight from the Funky Bones to Amsterdam.”
“But then I would’ve had a probably fatal episode of deoxygenation in Amsterdam, and my body would have been shipped home in the cargo hold of an airplane,” I said.
“Well, yeah,” he said. “But before that, my grand romantic gesture would have totally gotten me laid.”
That’s actually kidnapping. (Though some people probably would’ve preferred that story because it’s more “romantic.” Please see Lucille above for my reaction to that.)
“It’s true, isn’t it!”
“Probably not,” I said, and then after a moment added, “although you never know.”
He moaned in misery. “I’m gonna die a virgin,” he said.
You know you’re not actually dating, right? That Sunshine explicitly told you not to make romantic overtures at her, because it made her uncomfortable and unhappy? You know, that thing you’re doing right now?
Geez, Mr. Psycho; you should at least wait until it’s official before pressuring her for sex. Don’t you have any class?
But Sunshine doesn’t notice any of that, because it’s not important! No, she has her priorities straight:
“You’re a virgin?” I asked, surprised.
“Hazel Grace,” he said, “do you have a pen and a piece of paper?” I said I did. “Okay, please draw a circle.” I did. “Now draw a smaller circle within that circle.” I did. “The larger circle is virgins. The smaller circle is seventeen-year-old guys with one leg.”
A simple “yes” would’ve sufficed.
Also, I love the inclusion of the “I did”s sprinkled throughout, like we weren’t sure whether she actually would do what he said and needed the confirmation. Good job, Green!
we talked about Peter Van Houten’s amazingly brilliant comment about the sluttiness of time
Maybe that’s why the author keeps writing to them despite having no reason to: how often does he meet people young, stupid, and pretentious enough to think he’s a genius?
Anyway, they hang up and she watches TV with her parents:
This girl I didn’t like, Selena, got kicked off, which made me really happy for some reason.
Please stop using “for some reason” when the reason is obvious. Either Sunshine’s stupid, or Green thinks his readers are, and either way I’m annoyed.
So she angsts:
I watched TV in bed and checked my email and then after a while started crafting an email to Peter Van Houten about how I couldn’t come to Amsterdam but I swore upon the life of my mother that I would never share any information about the characters with anyone, that I didn’t even want to share it, because I was a terribly selfish person, and could he please just tell me if the Dutch Tulip Man is for real and if Anna’s mom marries him and also about Sisyphus the Hamster.
There’s no point for a grammatical breakdown here. It shares nothing and doesn’t even fit the tone of the email she would’ve sent, so what’s the point? You must have reasons for these things, Green!
Her angst becomes too much for her, so she calls the cheeriest person she knows: Mr. Psycho. Who immediately flies to her rescue, because these people do nothing but cling to one another.
“Hi,” I said.
It took him a second to sit down on the ground next to me, and he grimaced as he landed rather ungracefully on his ass. “Hi,” he said finally. I looked over at him. He was looking past me, into the backyard. “I see your point,” he said as he put an arm around my shoulder. “That is one sad goddamned swing set.”
I nudged my head into his shoulder. “Thanks for offering to come over.”
“You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you,” he said.
“I guess?” I said.
“All efforts to save me from you will fail,” he said.
Let’s just ban the word “said,” okay? I know a lot of authors use it to great effect, but I’m not convinced it’s worth it.
Also: “All efforts to save me from you will fail”?
Of course, Sunshine isn’t creeped out in the slightest, because like I said before, she’s a woman with her priorities in order:
“Why? Why would you even like me? Haven’t you put yourself through enough of this?” I asked, thinking of Caroline Mathers.
Because you’re perfect.
I’d say this girl needs a Sassy Gay Friend to give her some perspective, but I’d hate to see how Green depicts gay people, seeing as he can’t get teenagers, people with cancer, or any sort of human beings right. Though, come to think of it, there hasn’t been a single minority so far. Just a bunch of pretty white people.
Mr. Psycho decides it’s the swing set, not Sunshine’s cancer or teenagerness, that’s making her so unhappy, so they decide to sell it online (not bothering to wonder if the parents want to keep the set for sentimental reasons). You know what that means: more quirky banter!
Gus loaded this giveaway site called Free No Catch and together we wrote an ad.
“Headline?” he asked.
“‘Swing Set Needs Home,’” I said.
“‘Desperately Lonely Swing Set Needs Loving Home,’” he said.
“‘Lonely, Vaguely Pedophilic Swing Set Seeks the Butts of Children,’” I said.
He laughed. “That’s why.”
“That’s why I like you. Do you realize how rare it is to come across a hot girl who creates an adjectival version of the word pedophile? You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”
1. We get it, she’s amazing. She’s always and forever the best waifu in the world.
3. “Utterly unprecedented.” Blow me.
Well, their ad is completed and it is . . . something.
Desperately Lonely Swing Set Needs Loving Home
One swing set, well worn but structurally sound, seeks new home. Make memories with your kid or kids so that someday he or she or they will look into the backyard and feel the ache of sentimentality as desperately as I did this afternoon. It’s all fragile and fleeting, dear reader, but with this swing set, your child(ren) will be introduced to the ups and downs of human life gently and safely, and may also learn the most important lesson of all: No matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can’t go all the way around.
Swing set currently resides near 83rd and Spring Mill.
No one is going to buy that, unless your “small town not good, smart, or witty enough for us” is full of people who respond well to long, meandering discussions of the futility of life in their swing sets.
The next section is . . .
Okay, I’m sure you’ve wondered how I write these blogs. Since I’m the kind of person who works better with paper than electronic means, I like to print these chapters out, highlight the important bits, and write snippets of jokes, gif ideas, etc. on it. That way I have a general idea of what to say when it comes to actually writing it.
Why am I bringing this up? Because these are my notes for the next page:
That cut-off bit is a frowny face. That’s all I’ve got: six “nope”s and a frowny face. I just . . . what do you want me to say?
Reading An Imperial Affliction instead of watching bad TV or talking? Nope.
That over-romanticized nonsense about falling in love? Nope.
“Plenty” of people responding positively to that ad in an hour? Nope.
Mr. Psycho kissing Sunshine out of nowhere and without her permission? Nope.
Her getting angry about it despite being in love with him? That’s another “nope” I should’ve thrown in.
Mr. Psycho trying to pass Sunshine off as being the unreasonable one by kissing her mom and claiming it’s “just friendly”? Nope, and I hate you for being a manipulative dirtbag.
Getting an email from the super-reclusive, misanthropic author, who’s “delighted” and “cannot wait” to have them come to Amsterdam? So many “nope”s I can’t fit them into one blog.
And then a frown, because Sunshine’s mom just can’t catch a break. And Sunshine responds with no sympathy whatsoever, because she’s an awful human being.
Now that you’ve had to read a whole page of Green’s writing, aren’t you grateful to me for acting as a buffer? I suffer for you, my babies. Because I love you.
The chapter ends with her being allowed to go to Amsterdam.
“Trip’s on,” she said finally. “Dr. Maria called us last night and made a convincing case that you need to live your—”
If I could just stay alive for a week, I’d know the unwritten secrets of Anna’s mom and the Dutch Tulip Guy. I looked down my blouse at my chest.
“Keep your shit together,” I whispered to my lungs.
Ooookay, if it’s that’s touch-and-go that you have to tell your lungs not to fail on you, you shouldn’t be going on this trip. Just saying.
But she needs to learn the secrets that this man is inexplicably going to reveal to her (maybe he expects she’ll die before she can leak them?), so to Amsterdam we go!
I hope you’re as excited as I am. Til next time!