Writing about cancer can be challenging, making even the most confident author nervous and even uncomfortable. It’s a private subject for some, and in our attempts to be sensitive and supportive, it’s difficult to know what to say and what not to say unless you’ve personally experienced the disease in one of its countless terrible forms.
Enter John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a heart-wrenching novel featuring teens with cancer that’s more than that. While the disease plays a major role in the book, it’s not the focus of the story, and while characters Hazel Grace and Gus are afflicted with cancer, it doesn’t define them or their abilities. In any other writer’s hands, a novel about cancer-stricken teens may have delved into tearful sentimentality, but Green gives his story and characters, particularly Hazel, the strength, wit, and humor to be both brutally honest and realistic about her slim chances of survival.
When Hazel Grace states that “cancer books suck,” I was intrigued by her declaration. What books could exist in her fictional world that merit such a harsh assessment? More to the point, what books about teens dealing with cancer are available for readers like you and me? John Green isn’t the first young adult author to tackle writing about the disease, but he’s certainly set the bar high in terms of depicting an honest, realistic portrayal of it. What follows are titles that show that cancer books do not suck. Continue reading Writing the Good Fight: Teen Characters With Cancer