It’s here. The Penultimate Peril.
You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit . . . absent these past few weeks.
Okay, there’s been a lot of drama in my life. What with graduating, starting and finishing a semester of grad school, getting comfy in my new job, starting, ending, and then awkwardly Frankenstein-style-resurrecting a relationship, and then beginning another semester left me with limited time or inclination to deal with any of Green’s bullshit. Plus there’s homework, and trying to reconfigure career plans, apply for a new Master’s (M.B.A., if you were curious), keep in touch with friends who are way less socially anxious and homebody-y than I am, and that Party Hard game is so unbelievably fun and the first game I’ve ever completed, let alone “perfected,” and I’ve just been too damn lazy, okay? There have been distractions both reasonable and unreasonable, and things got neglected. Including you, my poor little babies.
But you’re not here to deal with my bullshit, you’re here to see what else Sunshine has left to say, considering this book reached its disappointing climax several chapters ago and now he’s just been awkwardly fumbling around, trying to create some sort of satisfying friction between these milk-bland characters while I just lay here, waiting for it end already so I can tell my friends what a disaster this evening has been . . .
But despite my most fervent prayers, no one stepped up and reviewed these last 2 chapters for me, so let’s just get back to it, shall we? We left off last time with Van Houten, who went from my favorite character to my least, being creepy and ignoring how cars work while Sunshine failed in every direction, including driving and empathizing with cancer-stricken 6-year-olds, but is somehow still the most amazing person on the planet.
Consequences, what are those?
Three days later, on the eleventh day AG
For fuck’s sake, I called Sunshine and Mr. Psycho “Jesus” as a joke, Green. You weren’t supposed to try and play it straight!
Seriously, did anyone read that without laughing? Were we supposed to find that a beautiful and moving expression of her loss? Because it just kinda comes out stupid.
“Hazel, hi, it’s Gus’s dad. I found a, uh, black Moleskine notebook in the magazine rack that was near his hospital bed, I think near enough that he could have reached it. Unfortunately there’s no writing in the notebook. All the pages are blank. But the first—I think three or four—the first few pages are torn out of the notebook. We looked through the house but couldn’t find the pages. So I don’t know what to make of that. But maybe those pages are what Isaac was referring to?”
“Hey, Sunshine, we didn’t want you to give up on that plot point just yet, because we still have more book to fill with pointless nothing!”
But okay, so Gus might’ve started writing the book for her, then realized he was unhappy with it or it wasn’t worth his effort or he smoked it or something. Clearly, the fact that it never ended up in her hands means that he didn’t want it to, right? It wouldn’t have been hard for him to get to her if he’d really needed to.
Three or four pages ripped from a Moleskine notebook no longer in Augustus Waters’s house. Where would he leave them for me? Taped to Funky Bones? No, he wasn’t well enough to get there.
The Literal Heart of Jesus. Maybe he’d left it there for me on his Last Good Day.
Sure, that makes sense. Despite being terminally ill, he decided to write you 4 pages of sequel, then instead of giving it to you directly or leaving it somewhere he knew it would get to you, he hid it . . . somewhere. He had no way of knowing whether you’d ever see it, but that’s how true love works, I guess.
I wouldn’t know, not having met my Augustus yet.
So I left twenty minutes early for Support Group the next day. I drove over to Isaac’s house, picked him up, and then we drove down to the Literal Heart of Jesus with the windows of the minivan down, listening to The Hectic Glow’s leaked new album, which Gus would never hear.
Hey, did you guys know that Gus liked The Hectic Glow? Didja know he was dead?
Turns out there’s nothing there, which is exactly what anyone with working synapses would’ve expected. So does she decide that clearly he didn’t leave anything for her? That maybe those pages had been ripped out ages before, or whatever he wrote was too private for her eyes?
Perhaps he’d left it for me in the hospital, but if so, it had almost certainly been thrown away after his death.
Of course not! She’s entitled to everything related to Mr. Psycho!
it either wasn’t here or I was missing something.
You’re missing something.
She actually gets involved in the Support Group for once:
“How are you?”
“I’m okay, Patrick. I’m a little out of breath.”
“Would you like to share a memory of Augustus with the group?”
“I wish I would just die, Patrick. Do you ever wish you would just die?”
“Yes,” Patrick said, without his usual pause. “Yes, of course. So why don’t you?”
That was pretty ballsy, Pat (no pun intended). This would be a wonderful occasion for her to lean on others who’ve been through similar experiences, and —
“I really don’t know. Isaac?” I asked. I was tired of talking.
Well, she tried. I guess she gets points for that.
Isaac talks about “true love,” which I’m glad Green spares us because we don’t need a repeat of last time, and Sunshine waxes philosophical about how she needs to never fear those mountains in the distance, never settle for the path of least resistance, and all that other cheesy, faux-inspirational crap.
Sunshine comes home and her parents try caring about her, those absolute shitheads. Luckily she can put them right in their place and make them cry!
“You’re not going to starve yourself to death just because Augustus died. You’re going to eat dinner.”
I was really pissed off for some reason. “I can’t eat, Mom. I can’t. Okay?”
I tried to push past her but she grabbed both my shoulders and said, “Hazel, you’re eating dinner. You need to stay healthy.”
“NO!” I shouted. “I’m not eating dinner, and I can’t stay healthy, because I’m not healthy. I am dying, Mom. I am going to die and leave you here alone and you won’t have a me to hover around and you won’t be a mother anymore, and I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything about it, okay?!”
I regretted it as soon as I said it.
“You heard me.”
“Did you hear me say that to your father?” Her eyes welled up. “Did you?” I nodded. “Oh, God, Hazel. I’m sorry. I was wrong, sweetie. That wasn’t true. I said that in a desperate moment. It’s not something I believe.” She sat down, and I sat down with her. I was thinking that I should have just puked up some pasta for her instead of getting pissed off.
To be fair, this scene is kind of moving. Sunshine learns that her parents are going to have a life even after she’s gone, and they won’t end up all bitter and hateful like Van Houten.
“I don’t want you to think I’m imagining a world without you. But if I get my MSW, I can counsel families in crisis or lead groups dealing with illness in their families or—”
“Wait, you’re going to become a Patrick?”
“Well, not exactly. There are all kinds of social work jobs.”
Dad said, “We’ve both been worried that you’ll feel abandoned. It’s important for you to know that we will always be here for you, Hazel. Your mom isn’t going anywhere.”
“No, this is great. This is fantastic!” I was really smiling. “Mom is going to become a Patrick. She’ll be a great Patrick! She’ll be so much better at it than Patrick is.”
“Thank you, Hazel. That means everything to me.”
I nodded. I was crying. I couldn’t get over how happy I was, crying genuine tears of actual happiness for the first time in maybe forever, imagining my mom as a Patrick.
See? Isn’t that kind of sweet? If it weren’t for the fact that I’d find it easier to believe that Sunshine pooped out a flying monkey and it carried her off by the toenails to the Land of Weed and Dildo-Dragons than that she can have genuine, unselfish feelings for another human being, this would be a real tearjerker of a scene. As it is, it’s still a highlight of the book.
It’s a shame there’s this chunk of stupid in the middle of it:
“As long as either of us is alive, I will be your mother,” she said. “Even if you die, I—”
“When,” I said.
Thanks. She needed reminding of that.
She nodded. “Even when you die, I will still be your mom, Hazel. I won’t stop being your mom. Have you stopped loving Gus?” I shook my head. “Well, then how could I stop loving you?”
“Okay,” I said. My dad was crying now.
And that’s why I have trouble believing that a few seconds later she’ll be crying out of genuine anything, let alone happiness for the woman whose love she just spurned with the least affectionate one-word answer the world has ever seen. Han Solo’s “I know” was more heartfelt and tender than that!
Also, it’s been 11 days, as we were helpfully reminded at the beginning of the chapter. Even for a crappy, fleeting non-romance like the one Gus and Hazel had, you’d expect her to still care about him less than 2 weeks later. So that question not only conflates the patient love of a mother for an ungrateful, bratty, cancer-riddled child with a who-knows-how-many-week-long romance where they hardly ever share anything deep or meaningful (just things that sound deep and meaningful), but it was pointless.
Well, we’re a little short today, but it’s been a long semester. Let’s wrap it up and eat junk food!
I ate a few bites of dinner—bow-tie pasta with pesto—and managed to keep it down.
Might that be symbolism I spy? Showing how she is slowly but surely mending her heart as well as her relationship with her parents, reflected in her physical improvement which doesn’t really count because she only ever seems sick for the purposes of drama and metaphor?
Who cares? I hope you enjoyed this week’s chapter, and I’ll see you later for the last one! Oh my gosh, this is almost over . . . that just puts me in the murdering mood.
I feel like if this game had come out sooner, I would’ve had a healthier way to deal with my Green-rage than drinking myself into a coma every night. Oh well. C’est la vie.