Be sure to have tissues close by for John Green's latest offering, The Fault in Our Stars.
Hazel is 16 years old, and has terminal cancer. Yes, she is currently on a miracle drug that has added some years to her brief life, but everyone around her knows that she will not make it to the quarter-century mark by a long shot. She meets Augustus in a support group for other teens with life-threatening (or life-ending) diseases, and is intrigued by the young man with one fake leg and a penchant for video games where he can play the hero.
Even though there is no hope for a truly long-term relationship between them, Hazel and Gus set out on a journey of young love. Along the way, they try to find out the end of Hazel's favorite book (the author has left it purposefully ambiguous) by traveling to Amsterdam, watch a friend lose his sight and girlfriend in nearly the same day, and try to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the midst of oxygen tanks and doctors that surround them.
I know, I know, no one wants to read a book about cancer. It's almost like reading a book about a dog: someone's going to die or they're going to get through it and come out stronger on the other side, leaving the rest of us to feel as though we're just meandering our way through healthy lives. I wouldn't recommend this book based on the fact that it's about teens with cancer falling for each other, but I would recommend it based on the superb characters Green has crafted from thin air. Hazel is gloriously witty and composed, Gus is a bundle of yearning for greatness, and even their parents are sweet and realistic. The Fault in Our Stars never feels cloying or overly sentimental, although it does feel like a young adult book. It's not a perfect book, but it's a perfect way to wile away a few hours on a couch when you need a good tearjerker.