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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

I finally read a book by John Green.  Actually, I've read two and can't wait to read the other three.   I'm going to concentrate on the most recent of his novels, The Fault in our Stars, published earlier this year. 


John Green's books have been taught in High School English classes all over the country.  I've read this book and Will Grayson Will Grayson and both books have talk about sex, sexuality, and vocabulary about sex and sexuality in them.  That being said, John Green is NOT A PORNOGRAPHER!  You need  to read the books and have discussion about them with colleagues if you are going to teach them in your music class.  It's very important that the students navigate their way through the language and scenes in the books in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

So it is pretty clear that teaching this book or any part of this book makes permission slips necessary.  This is a great chance for you to liaise with your High School English teacher.  Here's how.

Students take a scene from the book, perhaps the opening one, and create a monologue from John Green's narrative.  That is not too difficult because the book is written in the first person.  Students learn editing, critical reading, acting, oratory, and begin to imagine a movie rendition of the scene through this exercise.

Next, students imagine a cinematic way to present the action of the scene as the monologue is spoken.  Think camera angles, characters, set design, set location, etc.  Students need to determine what resources are available to them to create a film for the scene.  Then, they have to shoot and edit the scene to fit the narrative.

Now the music needs to be added.  Here's a chance for students to use instruments from home, Orff instruments, piano, band instruments, sound effects, etc. to bring the scene aurally to life.  You can discuss leitmotifs, perhaps have one for Hazel and one for Augustus.  You could have one for love and one for cancer and another for death.  Should the death one be a mutation of the cancer one?  Should it be a mutation of the love one?  Should the love and friendship motifs be related?  Should there be a life motif?  Perhaps you could imagine the life motif inverted to death, or is that how life and death really work?

As you see, the musical setting of the scene requires application of the deep reading of the book and particularly the scene.  One cannot help but imagine the book as a movie and indeed, John Green has movie deals for virtually all of his books.  By doing this project with a group of dedicated students in drama, music, and English, you are on the cutting edge.  The books are out, but the movies are not!  If you produce this scene as a youtube video, it will probably come out before or concurrent with the release of the movie.  How cool is that?

You don't even have to do video, you could stick with audio.  The acting, editing, etc would still be there, but the production would be far simpler.

If you teach High School, consider this project.  I know that permission slips and forms and controversy are a pain, but the learning is so worth it!  Good luck!


instadroid said…
Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

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