I'm in the midst of reading A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John Irving, stopped at page 184 ever since my daughter told me the strong reaction my 14 year old grandson had to the movie adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars, based on the YA book by John Green. Apparently, my grandson saw the movie recently with a mix of male and female friends. They all wept. The second time he saw it, with a different set of both male and female friends, he sobbed uncontrollably. This is not typical of him, so I was interested in why he reacted so strongly. Then my daughter told me the book is on his summer reading list for his first year of high school, and she had just picked it up from the library. I asked to borrow the book, reading it in two days.

I knew the basic plot of teens meeting with mixed feelings for a Cancer Support Group, which didn't bode well, as well as teenage romance. Not my usual choice of reading, but I was curious as to why he reacted so strongly to the movie, which supposedly is quite faithful to the book. Immediately, I liked the characters; their personalities, their irreverance, their vulnerabilities and strengths. Adults play an almost peripheral part, often obviously at odds with the teens. The author has an uncanny knack for capturing the concerns, the compassion, the awkwardness of teens who are basically living with death looming over them. His ability to write so that one believes and is concerned for each teen shows incredible talent, and it made the book impossible to put down. There were a number of unexpected plot twists, woven through tender and tough events.

When finishing the book, I returned it to my grandson and gingerly mentioned I'd heard he reacted quite emotionally to the movie. His older brother asked if I liked the author's style. I said the author seemed very talented at writing from a young person's perspective, that he captured the different voices quite well, to which he replied, "You would probably like Looking For Alaska, then. I'm not reading or seeing the movie of The Fault in Our Stars. I worry too much about getting cancer." The 14 year old replied, "I hold a lot of my feelings in; I guess I just needed to let them out and I really let them out, but have no idea why."