Review Blog

Feb 17 2014

This star won't go out by Esther Earl, with Lori and Wayne Earl

cover image

Introduction by John Green. Penguin Books, 2014. ISBN 9780141354033.
(Age: 12+) Cancer. Diary. When Esther Earl died in August 2010 of Thyroid Cancer, her friends and family with her, she left behind diaries, emails, photos. These have been used as the basis for this book, augmented by reminiscences from friends and relatives, nursing staff and doctors. Esther's story is brought to the fore in this large tome, as her parents and friends reveal what they knew of the young woman who fought to the end with grace and attitude.
Using her journals, diaries and letters, photos from family and friends, videos, blogs and utube uploads, reminiscences from those around her, copies of her drawings and many many photos of her in the last stages of her life, the book is a powerful look at a person who keeps her star shining. Powerful because she never gives up, and from age 12 to 16, she discusses all with the medical staff as well as those about her, she does not stint in asking the hard questions, nor does she falter in finding what is best for her. And she is honest. Interspersed between the words are accounts in orange taken from the website, Caringbridge, set up in 2008 in which people record their feelings, and her family document the progression of her disease.
One of her friends was John Green who recently wrote, The fault in our stars. He, with a number of other people, spent a day with Esther several months before she died, and he recounts that day in his introduction.
This is not an easy book to read, and as there is no contents or index page, it is difficult to just dip into and read sections at a time. Many girls will read it from cover to cover, adding the book to the range of books about kids with cancer, and many will go on to read John Green's The Fault in our stars, looking for traces of Esther in the main character, Hazel, although he started his book years before meeting Esther.
The support from her family and friends, shines through the whole book, and it is a testament to the young girl's courage in life that John Green dedicated his book to her.
Penguin has published this book in a heavier paper, and although paperback, is a solid book to hold, its 430 pages making it a long, intense read.
Fran Knight

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