If you haven’t yet read the book (what are you waiting for?!), you might expect “sick” to represent the meaning of “awesome” or “cool”. But the tagline becomes much darker when you learn that the main topic in the book is about two teens living with cancer and end up falling in love.
When I first saw the tag line on the poster, I thought, that really is sick.
But many of those who have read The Fault In Our Stars think “one sick love story” fits perfectly with the type of dark humor found within the book’s pages. After all, both of the main characters spent their time laughing in the face of cancer and exploring other aspects of their lives.
On his personal Tumblr, Green explains why he actually likes the tag line:
“I mostly wanted something that said, ‘This is hopefully not going to be a gauzy, sentimental love story that romanticizes illness and further spreads the lie that the only reason sick people exist is so that healthy people can learn lessons.’ But that’s not a very good tag line. I like the tag line because it says, literally, the sick can also have love stories. Love and joy and romance are not just things reserved for the well.”
These kids are not their illness. They have an illness.
And that is especially true recently with Leslie, the Make-A-Wish bride who got her wish to have a dream wedding. She got to experience all of the things that a wedding entails, including a husband-to-be who is completely in love with her – not to mention the beautiful dress, make-up, hairdo and so many other small and beautiful details.
But so many times after people hear about a wish like hers being granted, they tend to reference the idea that we help wish kids forget about their illness – if only for a while. And while that may be true for some, I think there is a bit more to it: All of the children that we serve are first and foremost, children.
I think it is very important to remember that a child with an illness is not defined by it. They have hopes and aspirations, likes and dislikes, and a wide variety of things that interest them. If you need proof, just do a web search to see news stories on all of the different wishes that our wish kids make – you will see kids who wish to chase storms, meet a favorite author (like Hazel, the protagonist in The Fault In Our Stars), host a television show, or even have a giant Quinceañera.
Just like Hazel, they want to explore their world – and as John Green says, those experiences are not reserved for the well.