Book Review - The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141345635 

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl and he decided to spend the rest of his life finding the ending to her favourite story. 

Gorgeous Augustus Waters meets Hazel Grace Lancaster and they fall in love. Gus discovers that Hazel’s favourite book was written with a cliff-hanger ending. He decides to track down the book’s elusive author, Peter Van Houten, to answer Hazel’s questions. 

Hazel is 17 and has terminal cancer. Gus is 17 and is a cancer survivor – perfect except for his prosthetic leg. Gus decides to use his ‘cancer wish’ to take Hazel to Holland to find Peter. Hazel’s condition worsens but, with the help of their parents, and the ‘genies’ who grant the wishes, they board the plane. 

This beautiful, aching story is full of humour, despair, and joy. The unflinching pain pounces off the page and breaks your heart. John Green is a master storyteller. I read the book in three hours, and it takes a genius who has worked hard to layer a book with so much and still make it so readable. 

Reading The Fault in Our Stars is like watching a slow motion car crash. Only, it’s your loved ones in the car, and you can’t and won’t look away. 

Definitely my favourite book of 2012. 

Amanda Patterson 


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My name is Mary Sutter

by Robin Oliveira (Penguin Books) R200 ISBN: 9781905490684


Mary Sutter is a midwife from Albany in 1861 who will leave no stone unturned to reach her goal: to become the first female surgeon in the United States. She faces prejudices against women in medicine and gets numerous rejections from professors not believing in her capacities.


When the man she loves chooses to marry her twin sister, Mary Sutter is devastated. She is determined to leave home and become a surgeon. She chooses a difficult path when she starts working as a nurse in the Civil War, ten years after Florence Nightingale’s mission in the Crimean War.


This debut by Robin Oliveira is well researched, and full of historical details, from midwifery in the 19th century, to the life of Abraham Lincoln and the suffering in the battlefields. Oliveira has managed to portray the life of a courageous young woman, without making the historical facts boring.


Stubborn, intelligent Mary will not allow you to forget what she did for generations of working women that followed her. Oliveira expressed hope that her book is a celebration of women who live to thrive and to strive. I think she has definitely succeeded.


Pauline Vijverberg


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