What’s in a roller coaster?

Stars are pretty.  So is John Green's writing.  Combine them, and you get The Fault in Our Stars.

Stars are pretty. So is John Green’s writing. Combine them, and you get The Fault in Our Stars.

Today, on the heels of it being released in theatres, I reread The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  My best friend has been pressuring me to go see it with her, and as I only read it once, years ago, I couldn’t really remember much of anything, and so decided to brush myself up on it before I paid approximately $8.00 (student discounted price, strictly 2D) to go see it.

Unfortunately, it took me until today (over three years after reading the book) to understand the meaning of the title The Fault in Our Stars.  For those as unenlightened as myself, to me, the title is a simple expression of the two main characters, Hazel and Augustus, cursing the stars that they were born under, etc.  If that makes sense.

Despite the shocking lack of common sense that my 13-14 (ish) year old self didn’t seem to have, there was one thing about The Fault in Our Stars that resonated with me upon my quick reread of it.  And that is a quote by the lovely teen heart-throb, Augustus Waters.

TFIOS roller coaster

At first glance, this is a very positive quote.  Everyone knows the statement that “life is a roller coaster, full of ups and downs.” And people generally consider the “ups” to be the good parts.  The sunny days, joyful smiles, adorable babies, etc.  But after some consideration, it occurred to me that the worst part of every roller coaster is the beginning; where you go up and up, the tension and fear building in your mind and body, every ounce of you concentrating for the crest of the hill.  That is the only part of the ride that actually takes power and control, machinery, energy.  After you crest that hill, you are flying.  The minor twists and turns, loops and drops, they are all irrelevant in the greater scheme of a good ride.

A roller coaster that went nowhere but up wouldn’t be a roller coaster at all.  It would be an endless, stressful, bone-wearying climb.  There would be no enjoyment, no fun, nothing but unstoppable, agonizing suspense, a body stuck wondering when it will fall.

So, I have come to the conclusion that the best parts of the roller coaster of life may be the hardest parts, the “downs,” the rough times.  Why?  Because we don’t remember the simple good times, the easy ups.  We remember the bad times.  Both literal and metaphorical falls.  A life with naught but good isn’t worth much in the end; the one who lived it will have had nothing to achieve, nothing to overcome.

And I think that John Green knew this, that the “ideal” life isn’t really ideal, because every time that  Augustus said that he was on a roller coaster that “only goes up,” he said it with a fair bit of irony. Of course, the wonderful Mr. Green (so many potential references in that phrase…the board game clue, Oz…I could go on) is far wiser than I am, and so I can probably assume that I’m fairly off the mark on this roller coaster-guess of mine, but who knows.  These are just my thoughts, violently spilling onto this virtual page.

I’ll see you next time,

Claire Marie


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