It’s not the most original premise – two teenage cancer patients fall in love. Their love is doomed because they will suffer for a long time and long suffering is a ‘side-effect’ of dying. (This phrase ‘side-effect of dying' is often used by the central character.) These two teenagers have smart mouths and do their part in breaking through the myth of suffering cancer-patients who march their way to heaven through martyrdom. One of them dies – the one you don’t expect to (the boy). The other one copes. (The girl.) There’s also a writer of a book ‘The Imperial Affliction’ who plays a part in the way any writer plays a part in our lives when he has written a story that resonates with us.
Overall, the book is good. I found a few portions a little forced and stilted but there are also passages that are beautifully written. Especially when the two lovers quote poetry or share stories with each other. This book was gifted and recommended by Ma, so it will always be special. But this does not take away from the merits of the book itself. It finishes on a note that a person will die, a love will end and so what. (But this nihilistic nature that blazes through us, however briefly, when we suffer before we start hitching our pain to some greater, grander plan is better captured in Lionel Shriver’s ‘So much for that’.)
All said and done, glad I read it.