No ‘Fault’ Discussion
Posted by: Kaite Stover
One of my favorite book groups to facilitate is the KCPL/Kansas City Star FYI Book Group. One of this group’s greatest strengths is that no one has ever met before. In fact, that’s almost a requirement for joining.
The KCPL/KCStar FYI Book Group comes together every six to eight weeks at different times, days, and locations in the Kansas City area. One goal is to bring together readers from the widespread community. Readers who have never met have only one thing in common when the meeting begins–the book. Happily, readers usually find they have far more than a book in common by the time the discussion is over. In between is always a lively and intelligent discussion of the “book of the moment.”
Once a year I encourage the team that selects the title for discussion to opt for a young adult novel. With the surge in popularity of young adult novels that adults are enjoying, I always hope to gather a group of varying ages if a young adult book is chosen.
The most recent young adult novel we selected was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. A very passionate group of readers, including two teens, gathered to discuss Green’s fourth novel. The two teens had read other books by Green, but none of the adults had. One teen even mentioned an NPR story. However, by the end of the discussion, the teens had convinced the adults to try Green’s other books.
Book groups looking for teen novel that will generate lots of conversation won’t go wrong choosing this book. Although there’s a discussion guide available, at this discussion readers spent time talking about the characters of Hazel and Gus and how believable they are. When one of the adults questioned the veracity of Hazel’s vocabulary one of the teens opined that kids with cancer aren’t socializing much, they read all the time out of sheer boredom, so, yeah, they’re gonna have a good vocabulary. But they’re probably not going to talk like that all the time, she said, grinning.
Attendees liked exploring the characters of all the adults in the book, Hazel’s parents, Gus’s parents and siblings, Peter Van Houten, and even Patrick, the group counselor. The group also discussed the issue of absolution, who was seeking it, why, and who found it. They also wanted to talk about obsession and the large and small things that can take over a life when something more tragic is looming. Oddly enough, none of the readers talked about death and one of the teens pointed out, “why bother? That’s not what this book is about.”