The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
At first glance, Lidewij may seem like she's just some disembodied assistant to Peter Van Houten who answers his email and arranges travel plans. But she's much more than that. This is a woman filled with compassion. She knows that her boss's work matters, but she totally doesn't agree with the way he behaves.
Lidewij is a dreamer and a wish-granter. She is the one who arranges for Augustus and Hazel to come visit Van Houten, and when the visit quickly goes south, she is horrified and outraged:
"I RESIGN!" Lidewij shouted. There were tears in her eyes. But I wasn't angry. (12.128)
She sticks to her guns and even makes sure the kids have the best visit they can. Though Augustus technically gets his wish from the corporate genies, Lidewij is a true wish-granting genie in her own right.
Hazel and Augustus aren't very impressed by Patrick, who leads the Support Group of cancer kids. First of all, he's always talking about the "literal heart of Jesus."
I noticed this because Patrick, the Support Group Leader and only person over eighteen in the room, talked about the heart of Jesus every freaking meeting... (1.5)
Patrick basically stands for everything that Hazel is not: someone who has suffered through an illness and found comfort in all sorts of signs and symbols rather than staying grounded in reality. Patrick believes that miracles can happen, that Jesus will bring you peace, and that all the kids will be okay.
But Hazel isn't down with this, and she hates watching what she sees as a charade played out in front of her.
Hazel's dad isn't quite as hovery as her mother, but that doesn't mean that he isn't a huge part of her life. Hazel describes him early on as easily moved to tears (especially when it comes to her illness), and because of that, she often tiptoes around him, trying not to upset him. But he's also extremely supportive and talks to Hazel like an adult. When Augustus dies, he says the following:
"It's total bullshit," he said. "The whole thing. Eighty percent survival rate and he's in the twenty percent? Bullshit…. But it was sure a privilege to love him, huh?"
I nodded into his shirt.
"Gives you an idea how I feel about you," he said.
My old man. He always knew just what to say. (22.56-59)
When he's not weeping, Hazel's dad sure can be wise.
Augustus's parents are a slightly different breed of cancer parents than Hazel's. Though Hazel's parents can hover and worry over her, they're not particularly religious. Augustus's parents, on the other hand, are all about finding comfort in religion and God. They have Encouragements all over their house and talk a lot about heaven and God's plan.
At Augustus's funeral, that's also the focus:
After his sister Julie spoke, the service ended with a prayer about Gus's union with God, and I thought back to what he'd told me at Oranjee, that he didn't believe in mansions and harps… (22.21)
In the face of tragedy, faith is their lifeboat.
Kaitlyn is Hazel's main non-cancer friend. They still hang out and talk occasionally, but it's on a more superficial level about shopping, boys, and juicy gossip. Kaitlyn wants to be there for her friend, but it's hard for her to tap into Hazel's darker side and think about mortality and what it means to be dying.
She wants to comfort Hazel when Augustus dies, but even then there's a disconnect of priorities:
"So what was it like?" she asked.
"Having your boyfriend die? Um, it sucks."
"No," she said. "Being in love." (25.8-10)
Kaitlyn just exists in a different world than Hazel. And in that way, she represents what Hazel could have been if she continued blissfully on the path of most healthy teenagers—filled with school gossip and shopping and talk of boys. But that's not Hazel's reality anymore.
What do you think? Is it her fault for not being more compassionate or is there just no way for her to understand?
The Support Group Kids
Hazel comes into regular contact with the other Support Group kids, but they're not necessarily her friends. In fact, the only thing that brings them together is a mutual interest in not dying of cancer—kind of depressing. They're portrayed as a group rather than individuals, and it's hardly noticeable when the group rotates because some die and some join. Another bleak reminder of the realities of cancer.