A letter to John Green, author

John Green is the author of The Fault in Our Stars, the book I began reading while in the hospital after my surgery. As I continued to read, real life and fiction became entangled as I found myself diagnosed with the very disease the main characters were fighting.

Below is a copy of my letter to the author of the fabulous book. After reading this blog post, you are free to take care of your most basic needs, but then you should immediately acquire a copy of this book.

NOTE: This letter contains a spoiler to an awesome book. I can’t believe I didn’t originally include this note. I broke the cardinal rule of readers. For shame!


Hello Mr. Green,

I am a 28 year old English teacher at Fremd High School in Palatine, IL. Ten days ago, I went in for surgery to remove what seemed to be ovarian cysts. I would be out for some weeks, missing my beloved Writers Week at Fremd, which began today Feb. 27, 2012.

Completely necessary tangent: Writers Week is the greatest thing in the history of the entire world. We are on year 18 and each year the resume of writers we’ve brought in gets more and more impressive and mind-bogglingly awesome. Gwendolyn Brooks. Patricia Smith. Ted Kooser. Billy Collins. Chris Crutcher. Simone Elkeles. Patricia Smith. Nikki Giovanni. Sara Holbrook. Ellen Hopkins. Veronica Roth. LeAlan Jones. Alex Kotlowitz. Dave Cullen. Loung Ung. And this is just a sampling. See http://fremdwritersweek.ning.com/forum/topics/previous-writers-week-guests

In typical English teacher fashion, I left Fremd prior to my surgery armed with my favorite comfort food– books, The Fault in Our Stars among them and the one I gravitated toward. I read slowly at first (darn those narcotics) but eventually gained some speed and even pinched myself to stay awake to read more at times.

This past Thursday, I was diagnosed with cancer. A type of Ewing’s sarcoma, very rare, particularly in adults. Augustus may say there’s a metaphor in this. Others might call it really shitty irony. That diagnosis came out of left field. Right field? I’m just terrible with sports metaphors. I played catcher in my town’s softball league growing up in a league that had no stealing.

After that appointment, I wasn’t ready to feel much just yet. So I read. People began asking about this book attached to my hand. I shared a little teaser (I’ve gotten quite good at selling books to kids over the last 5 years, if I do say so myself) always ending with, “But enough about that. You must read it.” There’ve been some looks of horror in response to my reading selection, as if I’m some sort of masochist. Well, yes. I am the same girl who once custom-crafted break-up CDs to cry to in her car.

Last night a good friend of mine passed away. His name is Augustus Waters. Boy oh boy oh boy, did that hurt. I was able to hide the hot, stinging, burning tears from my fiance sitting on the other side of the couch for a little bit, but it soon became an Isaac-style wailing, the kind of cry that has to be heard. I scared the hell out of my fiance. He is so freaking awesome, it’s not even funny. I see so much of our love in Hazel and Augustus that I never once questioned that they’d fall head over heels for each other in a love so beyond their years.

I got to feel what I needed to feel. Anger. Sadness. A whole bunch of other words that essentially boil down to mean anger and sadness. I get married this October and wish I could worry about crappy flowers and cake design and all that other shit right now. I want to go back to complaining about how many papers I need to grade. But that’ll come. I feel appreciation that I was lucky to have this book with me at this moment in my life. So thank you.

You may hear from me again cause I’d love to see you on the stage of Writers Week 19, exactly one year from today, with me, married and healthy. But if not, no worries. I have books. I have your books. Time to sign off. I have some more reading to do.


Jaclyn DeRose