The Great and Terrible Ten

July 30, 2014 in books, life lessons, movies

I know I’m a little behind, but I’ve finally read The Fault in Our Stars and seen the movie. And now, I’m going to talk about them both. *SPOILER ALERT* If you haven’t seen/read it yet and want to, you should probably stop reading this. Unless you just don’t care, in which then by all means, continue. 

Oh, the book. To be honest, the book was disappointing! It kept my interest enough, sure. But it just didn’t do it for me. I don’t know if it was all the hype about the movie or if my expectations were just too high, but reading the book that the entire world was talking about just came up short for me. Really short. However, after reading the book and seeing the movie, I think a big part of my issues with the book was just the meat of the actual story being told. The relationship between Augustus and Hazel was less intriguing in print than on the big screen. It’s more of a look than a few sentences in a book.

I’m also going to admit that just like any book/movie combo, I’m really glad I didn’t even see the movie trailer for this before I read the book. I like to experience a book the way the author wrote it – not with actors and actresses in mind and scenes set up for you. I like to let my imagination set up the scenes, just like the author intends to happen. Isn’t that the reason for writing a book anyway? I love it because it allows many people to experience and enjoy the novel but in different ways. I saw the characters in this one a certain way, and in discussing it with my friend, he saw them completely different. I just love that.

First off, the trailer …

Oh my heart! I’m a typical girl in that I’m a sucker for a good chick flick. And this one did not disappoint by any means. I was intrigued the entire time, and yes, I cried. It tugs on the heartstrings many, many times, and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world! And, this is the first time this is happening, but I admit the movie far surpasses the book. Usually, my feelings are the other way around, but not this time! However, I could’ve done without all of the squealing and talking in the theater. Oh, and that one girl behind us that kept exclaiming that “This is just SO SAD!” and “I just want to cryyyyyy!” We get it. It’s sad. Didn’t you know this coming into it?!

They left out a few key scenes that I particularly enjoyed in the book, but that’s inevitable with book to movie scripts. However, one thing that I really didn’t enjoy in the movie was Ansel Elgort cast as Augustus Waters. He’s tall and kind of cute (which I guess is what they were going for), but he’s not the “sexy”, brooding type that I had imagined in the book. But, he played the part fairly well, so there’s that. And Shailene Woodley surprised me. I had only seen her act in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, so I was pretty impressed with the portrayal of Hazel Grace. I’m really looking forward to finally seeing her role in Divergent!


But more than reviewing the book versus the movie, there were some phenomenal life lessons in The Fault in Our Stars (TFiOS). Seriously. Let’s get into a few of them.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world. But you do have a say in who hurts you.”

Umm, yes! This was a huge one for me. It’s completely inevitable that you’re going to be hurt throughout your lifetime, probably more than once, twice, or even dozens of times. You do, however, have a say in those that hurt you. And more often than not, as in Augustus and Hazel’s case, it’s the ones you love the most that do the hurting, which is partially the reason it hurts so much. Oh, the twisted irony that is life.

“This is the great and terrible ten.”

Hazel talks about a time she was in the hospital and while she couldn’t breathe because of the cancer in her lungs, she was asked to rate her pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Her response? Nine. The nurse told her it was then that she knew Hazel was a fighter, because she rated a 10 at a 9.

Her great and terrible ten of pain did come, but not in the form of physical pain. It came as a world-stopping, heartbreaking, emotional pain at the loss of the love of her life. Losing Augustus and his witty charm that fully encompassed who he was, she reached her great and terrible ten.

I believe that so much happens in this world that we get more than one great and terrible ten. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Every time I’ve lost a loved one, I’ve been inconsolable. The pain was a resounding ten, no doubt about it. Granny G was a particularly difficult one for me, only I felt the resonating 10 for years and years after the initial grief wore off. And then, I felt the ten again at the loss of my other grandmother. Hers was a tragic and sudden loss that hit me in my core. It was unfathomable that she was gone, as I had just seen her a few days prior and she was doing fine. Tragedies are like that – they’re completely unexpected and this was no different. It took a long time for me to deal with my grief from that loss, and I believe I’m still working on it to this day. And then, Pops lost his battle with his second cancer last year. The ten was back and in full force. There are days that I cry and wish so hard that I could hear his laugh again and have him say, “I love you, girl!” Perhaps the ten just never leaves and only resurfaces at these moments.

But alas, I had another ten this year. Only this time, it was different. This time, it was a pain so severe and so hard to deal with, and now I know why. It was a loss that someone chose. My divorce. He chose to cheat on me and hurt me so deeply. He chose to leave me heartbroken and at a complete and utter loss. It was his choice, and it was a ten I’ll never forget for all of my days. It was a different kind of ten, and I pray that I never feel a ten like that again for the rest of my life.


Dealing with these tens, however, brings me to another life lesson in TFiOS.

“Grief does not change you. It reveals you.” 

Experiencing such loss and heartache truly reveals your strength and foundation. It reveals your character. When something so difficult is happening that you have to deal with, it’s how you react to the situation that proves who you really are. It shows how you deal with conflict and reveals you at your weakest moments. Do you just give up and feel sorry for yourself? Or do you make the decision to greet each day anew and to put one foot in front of the other?

I do my best to be strong in those moments. In all of my tens, I chose to not give up. Losing loved ones is inevitable of course, but they wouldn’t want me wallowing in them being gone. It’s selfish, because they are with their Creator and without worldly pain. It’s glorious, really. And in my other ten, as I’ll call it, it was ground I had never walked before. It was a pain that I’ve never felt and knew nothing of trying to wade through. But with the strength of my God and my family and friends, I didn’t give up. I didn’t throw in the towel on my life, or my future, or on love. I’m currently in a great place and with the strongest faith to-date. The relationships I have with my family members are stronger than ever. I’m stronger than ever. It was a ten I had to endure in order to know what I deserve and what lies ahead of me. Through my other ten, I have hope. And I think that reveals a lot about me, of which I’m proud. The tough days still come, but I’m happier more often than not, and I’m hopeful for my future.

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” 

Although many literalists take issue with this statement, as infinity is infinite and therefore cannot be relative to other infinities which are also infinite, this is something that really relished with me in TFiOS.

Hazel and Augustus didn’t have a lot of time together. However, the infinity that they did have was precious and absolutely priceless to them. They made the most of every minute they had. And although their love story wasn’t typical by any means, it was theirs, and it was still so very special. I love that this was portrayed in TFiOS because it shows that no matter what you have in your life or how much time you have with someone, it means something. What you experience isn’t any less than what someone else experiences that was maybe swept off their feet by prince charming – it just doesn’t happen like that. We all have our own stories to tell, and they’re important to the people that matter. No matter how big or small your infinity is with someone, whether it be a significant other or a family member or friend, it’s special all the same. And although you may have a much smaller infinity in this life than someone else, it’s still your infinity and is important. Don’t diminish it by comparing it to others. #wordstoliveby #practicewhatyoupreach (I’m working on it.)

Have you seen the movie yet? Read the book? Which did you like better? 

1 Comment

  • itbritt July 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I've read the book but am holding off for the movie. I am just so picky, I fear the whole thing will be ruined for me.

    And Shailene Woodley!? I too have only seen her in Secret life, but I am so not sure that this part is right for her… We'll see.

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