Hazel is a 17-year-old with terminal cancer who starts going to a support group to deal with her depression. She meets fellow teen Augustus Waters, whose vivacious personality soon rubs off on Hazel. Everything is wonderful except for the one fault in their stars- a nod to a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Though in remission, Augustus lost a leg during his own earlier cancer diagnosis and Hazel must lug an oxygen tank everywhere she goes. Limitations like these are a constant reminder of their immortality and keep them from acting like carefree teens, which they both desperately want.
The Fault in our Stars is a deep, sobering film following two kids who seem much older than they are. One friend in my book club couldn’t finish the novel because, “They talk like grown ups…I couldn’t stand it,” she said. It’s hard to believe it’s teens talking as they discuss literature, life and the metaphysical.
“They’re so mature!” my seventh grade son said after the movie. Even though The Fault in our Stars is a bestselling children’s book right now, he thought the film was boring. We heard some high school girls sniffling throughout- and that’s the target audience.
Kid Focused grades for The Fault in our Stars (taking into account it’s PG-13)
Compelling story line- B
What would it feel like to be young and dying? Hazel and Augustus are the epitome of teenagers who feel they don’t belong, a theme popular with teens because they can identify with it.
Strong message- B
Strong relationships can help us through our darkest times. There are anti-establishment, bucking authority themes that seem harmless on the surface because the teens are sick.
Leading character is a role model- B
Hazel and Augustus care deeply for each other and for their friends and family, unlike the other, healthy teens depicted as self-absorbed. If they hadn’t had sex in the film they’d get a higher grade.
Sexual or adult content – D
Cigarettes play a central part in the story. Though he never lights up, Augustus nearly always has a cigarette in his mouth as a metaphor that he can be close to something that can kill him, but choose to give it the power to do so or not.
There are plenty of conversations that are hard to believe teenagers would have.
As for their love story, it’s very sweet until they go from first kiss to having sex.
When they visit an author they both like, they are served champagne and ask for another bottle. There is even a tie back to the title in this scene- “We bottled the stars for you,” the waiter says. The parents, perhaps because they’re so glad their children are alive, seem to look past their kids’ adult behavior.
Language and Violence- C
Swear words are peppered throughout. Graphic medical scenes could be upsetting to children under 14.
Overall Kid Focused Grade for The Fault in our Stars: C+
Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of four young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues. Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox. If you enjoyed this post, "Like" us on Facebook for updates on more posts like it. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.