Should you (and your teen) see The Fault In Our Stars?

on June 5, 2014 in I heart books. with 98 comments by


(Warning: this post will be a bit longer than usual but will not include any spoilers. However, I will be mentioning sex between teenagers, so my normal G rating on a blog post is gonna bump up to PG. Proceed.)

I cried through the last few chapters of the book by John Green.

I cried the back third of the movie. Like, ugly cry.

And when it ended, I walked out of the theater and began to turn over in my mind what to tell you.

. . . . .

In the few weeks that I have been talking about this book, the red carpet event, and the movie, I have had a small (but vocal) group of readers expressing their concern that someone like ME (I’m assuming they mean “teen Christian author”) can support a movie like THAT (I’m assuming they mean the part where two unmarried teenagers have sex). At least, that’s what the emails were mostly focused on. They have not all been unkind, more just concerned. And I understand. I really do.

And so I’ve wrestled. I loved the book. I loved the movie. But would I tell teenagers to see it? Or moreover, would I be willing to “stand” in front of a bunch of parents and say this movie deserves your time and money?


Here’s why.

In every story, there are going to be moral decisions made that you will not agree with. Sometimes, you can press on and it not affect you. And then, at other times, the decisions made cause you to want to walk away from the story all together. When you feel a check on your insides, listen to it. It is your personal decision.

I watch Parenthood. Julia kissed a man that wasn’t her husband. I don’t agree with that. But I still watch it because I find there is so much redemption in the lives of the Braverman family.

I watched a few episodes of Sons of Anarchy. The violence and sex were too much for me. I quit it. The good didn’t outweigh the brutal in my mind.

That doesn’t mean you should watch Parenthood or stay away from Sons of Anarchy. I’m just telling you that was MY experience and the check on MY insides.

In The Fault In Our Stars, there are a few decisions made by teenagers that I do not agree with or believe are the most healthy and life-giving choices. And truthfully? I found the one short sex scene absolutely earned the PG-13 rating because it’s surprisingly racy, especially for an experience between two high schoolers.

But one sex scene does not a movie make. There is so much more to this story, to the complexity of the characters, to the wrestling through pain and laughter and family and cancer and grief almost to an unbearable degree.

. . . . .

I would not suggest middle schoolers see this film without an adult. Truth be told, if I had high school son or daughter, I’d sit right there next to them in the theater, just like Mark Matlock from Youth Specialties.

But that isn’t my stance simply because of the sex (though, again, what is appropriate for you or your child to see is TOTALLY your decision). I think you need to see it with your kid because you need to talk about it. And you need to listen.

The love in this movie is real to how teenagers love.

The pain in this movie is real to how teenagers hurt.

TRUST ME. PLEASE. Teens are my people. I write for them, I think about them, I talk to them, in some form or fashion EVERY DAY. This story, the book and the movie, is real for them. And you need to see it. And you need to talk about two cancer-stricken kids having sex because they love each other. And you need to talk about how real loss is and how deep love and pain go and what happens when things go wrong.

Don’t stay away from this movie because you are scared of the conversations that will come of it. Whether you see it or not, I’m willing to bet the teenagers (and adults) around you will. And I’m scared that some of us are going to stay away because we “don’t believe in pre-marital sex even if the kids do have cancer” (that’s a quote from an email) and what’s going to happen is the teenagers around you are going to internalize what they see and feel in that movie theater and make decisions alone without wrestling through their thoughts with a wise adult.


We can see the movie with them. We can have open and honest discussions around our personal beliefs, and we can hug them and cry with them and feel with them ALL THE FEELS that will come when you watch The Fault In Our Stars.

The movie is really great. The book is better.

Both are worth your time.

. . . . .

Your thoughts and discussion, spoken with respect and kindness, are welcome here- whether you agree or not. Feel free to discuss this book or film in comments (without spoilers please), but I do reserve the right to delete meanness because it’s Friday and ain’t nobody got time for that.


  1. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 8:21 AM  |  reply

    Good talk, Annie. Good talk.

    Thanks for writing, as always, and encouraging conversations between teens and parents and pastors and leaders.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:13 AM  |  reply

      Thank you! <3

  2. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 8:27 AM  |  reply

    thank you for your honesty annie. this book is on the recommended summer reading list for my son who’ll be a freshman in HS in august. i wanted to read it first before him. i look forward to the conversations that this book will bring. we can’t keep our kids in a “holy huddle” & we can’t push our convictions onto someone else. we listen. we teach. we love. if we keep our kids in a “holy huddle” we’re just creating someone without any antibodies to sin & full of fear.

    all that to say. i loved the book. i haven’t decided if i want to see the movie yet. we’ll see.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:13 AM  |  reply

      Good word, Caroline.

  3. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 8:33 AM  |  reply

    You rock, Miss Downs.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:15 AM  |  reply

      thank you. 🙂

  4. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 8:52 AM  |  reply

    Super solid post. When you write, people listen. I’m proud to call you my friend.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:20 AM  |  reply

      Thank you, friend. Miss you.

  5. Kim
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 9:09 AM  |  reply

    Well Said. I read the book at my 16yo daughters request. It opened doors for us to be able to talk about sex, friendship, love, suffering and death without awkwardness. To discuss what we believe and why. I consider this book a gift to me as a parent to allow me to connect with my daughter. I urge parents to not miss this opportunity,

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:34 AM  |  reply

      Thanks for being brave in conversation.

  6. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 9:13 AM  |  reply

    Wonderful post, Annie. Wonderful. And definitely pondering your wisdom here as I’m reading the book and one of my sons has asked to see the movie.

    So thankful for you. Always.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:34 AM  |  reply

      Thanks, friend. Love.

  7. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 9:35 AM  |  reply

    I read the book last summer and had a hard time wiping tears because I was face down on the beach and well, sand….

    Annie, this is SUCH a good post discussing our motives and consequences. As a parent of two college age kids and one still in HS, I appreciate your logic and train of thought.

    If we don’t open doors of communication for the Hard Things…well, they won’t talk to us (adults, parents) about them. Which leaves them to other kids…. Which won’t provide the counsel, wisdom and experience we’ve gained from going before them.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:35 AM  |  reply

      You’re so right and soooo wise, Robin.

    • Heather
      posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:40 AM  |  reply

      what she said. i’m so thankful that my daughter feels able to have open conversations with me about the hard stuff right now at 13 – and i pray that as she continues to grow, that those conversations will keep on going.

      • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:45 AM  |  reply

        For sure. I think that is amazing.

  8. Lori
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 9:36 AM  |  reply

    Thank you Annie! I watched the movie last night with my 15 yr old and soon to be 13 yr old daughters. WE CRIED! In part of the discussion we had was 1) not all guys are like Augustus Waters (or Noah Calhoun) 2) even if you don’t have cancer, have great relationships with your friends and don’t waste your time on drama. Ain’t nobody got time for that! There’s lots of topics that can be talked about — shoot, was egging a car so bad? ha

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:38 AM  |  reply

      Great discussions! Love it.

  9. Brittany
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 9:39 AM  |  reply

    I’m on staff with Young Life and was worried about seeing this with a bunch of 8th and 9th grade girls tonight. Thanks for posting this and engaging in the hard conversations and helping others love teens well!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:43 AM  |  reply

      I love Young Life! Keep up the good work, Brittany!

  10. Melanie
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 9:51 AM  |  reply

    that’s so true.
    I liked the book. My main drawbacks though had more to do with the language, and the ideas the characters have that mock church and that don’t point toward Truth (and Heaven).

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:44 AM  |  reply

      Great points. There is some unsavory language to be sure.

  11. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 9:53 AM  |  reply

    Glad to read this today. I’m a volunteer youth worker (and a mom of four littles) who loved the book. I’m taking 2 just-finished middle school girls to see it tomorrow night. I know they’re gonna see it anyway so I’m glad I can be there to talk about it with them before and after.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:44 AM  |  reply

      That’s great, Dawn! And I love that their parents trust you to take them! Hope they will read the book/see the movie as well so that the girls have lots of wise adults speaking into this.

  12. Erin
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:25 AM  |  reply

    Thanks for being real about teen girls and their experiences. We are on our second Bible study using your books and love that you have such insight to that age group. As a mom of teen, we have been blessed by your honesty and willingness to share true feelings. So thankful for you.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:45 AM  |  reply

      Thanks for your kind words, Erin.

  13. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:51 AM  |  reply

    Another day, another wonderful & thought-prokoking post 🙂 Thanks, Annie!

  14. Aundreya
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:06 AM  |  reply

    Thank You Sharing this ! I am seeing it tonight with a friend I was excited to see it, but I was hesitant just because it is something different from what I would normally see 🙂 But your thoughts and opinions have definitely helped so Thank You and I am glad you liked it 🙂

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:48 PM  |  reply

      Can’t wait to hear your thoughts- excited to see the discussions that are born from it.

  15. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:07 AM  |  reply

    Thank you for your honesty. And, thank you for emphasizing the role of parents in the life of teens. When our children were little there was much they did not watch or see. As they grew, their eyes were opened little by little to this complex world. We never wanted to desensitize our children to the pains of this world. Nor hide under the covers when times got rough. I will say, parents know their children (mostly) and each parent knows what his/her child can handle.

    So, that said, it is wonderful thing to suggest the parents see this movie with their children and talk. Talk, talk, talk.

    Good job, Annie, for being an example of an honest conversation that is not harsh. Thanks!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:49 PM  |  reply

      Thanks, Deanna. Love your thoughts. Yes, I fully support parents being all up in this with their kids!

  16. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:07 AM  |  reply

    I was debating reading the book, but now I think I’m going to read the book and see the movie (after I read the book, of course 🙂 )! Thanks for doing this post, Annie!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:50 PM  |  reply

      Read it first for sure! 🙂

  17. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:08 AM  |  reply

    Thanks Annie. I was having all of the same thoughts and you just confirmed each and every one of them. And thanks to Robin for sharing this post!

    Not related: I was in your Blissdom sessions last year and I ‘fell in love’. Thanks for that!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:50 PM  |  reply

      Thanks for your kind words! And I hope the movie/book lead to important discussions in your family.

  18. Julie Carpenter
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:12 AM  |  reply

    Thank you Annie for a well written post. I love your honesty and I feel honored that you mentored my daughter and that you continue to pour into teens!

    I read the book and enjoyed it. My take away was that all people even kids with cancer are still kids and still want the opportunity to love and live.

    My 15 year old wants to see the movie with a girl that is his friend. I think that I will take him first and have some discussion with him before he goes with his friend.

    I would love to have your discussion starters, Annie, so if you are willing to share please do.


    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:51 PM  |  reply

      Thanks, Julie! I’m working on a piece with the conversation starters- I’ll send you the link once it is live if it is posted at another outlet. 🙂

  19. Casey
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:13 AM  |  reply

    I was so mad when Julia kissed the teacher! I watches SOA with my husband once and WOW I couldn’t finish it…I left the room. I have stayed with Parenthood and not SOA. I read the book last week on a road trip. My 11 year old daughter BEGGED to read it and I told her I had to finish it before I could make a call. After finishing it–I realized I wasn’t ready to explain what “condomy” problems were. So I told her we would revisit it later. That said, I am taking my 14 (almost 15) year old to see it today. I think the dialogue and plot is real life and issues we have dealt with personally (cancer). I am super guarded about what my kids watch and read, but I also think that our kids are probably aware of it whether we care to acknowledge it or not. I can’t wait to see the movie and I cried through the last 1/3 of the book. It was a doozie! A great word here Annie!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:51 PM  |  reply

      GREAT thoughts, Casey. Really wise.

  20. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:19 AM  |  reply

    Just last night, as I sat at a pizza dinner for the incoming 6th graders at my church, I told a fellow mom that sometimes I forget that I wasn’t always a mom when I make judgments on what other people are doing or saying – or on what’s broadcast in our media. But on the other hand, because my kids are still little, sometimes I forget that I’m a mom and not just a person consuming that same media. Because it never occurred to me – as I read this book or as I’ve been bombarded with the movie’s commercials – to be offended by the sex. Huh.

    ANYWAY. All that aside, I really appreciate your insight here and am going to share it on Facebook with my friends who have older kids. Because I’m betting they never “forget” they are parents. 🙂

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:51 PM  |  reply

      You’re awesome. Thanks, Mary! Love you.

  21. Chloe
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:49 AM  |  reply

    I’m a freshman in high school and I’ll be seeing the movie pretty soon and I’m worried about the sex scene. How graphic is it? Because I’m not seeing it with my parents and so I want to know whether I’ll be able to see it or not. And if it shows TOO much, then I’ll not be able to see it.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:52 PM  |  reply

      Chloe- hope you got my email. Proud of you for digging deeper into things that matter to you and making sure your standards are compromised by the media. Two thumbs up, my friend! 🙂

  22. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:51 AM  |  reply

    Thank you for this post. Super helpful to me!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:52 PM  |  reply

      Glad it helped, Anna. 🙂

  23. txbloobonnet
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:58 AM  |  reply

    Here is another review that goes into some interesting details. Probably won’t see it until it comes out on dvd, but do appreciate a non-vampire sort of movie.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:52 PM  |  reply

      Great option! The DVD will be great.

  24. posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 12:20 PM  |  reply

    grateful for you, annie. also? i loved the book. i ugly cried. it’s also set in my hometown, so that’s fun. since john green lives here, we get lots of random little road names and our mall thrown in there. 🙂

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:53 PM  |  reply

      Oh sure! That’s fun for your Indy people. 🙂 Do y’all really go play at that skeleton park?

  25. Merideth
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:08 PM  |  reply

    Love your post Annie. Such an honest heart you have. I agree completely with what you said, and love you are reminding adults to talk to the kids in their lives about this book/movie. Could not agree with your point on that more. My 13 year old niece read the book and saw the movie last night. She loves John Green and after her praise about the book, and yours, I will have to check it out for myself. Maybe it will spark some conversation between me and my niece. Love you friend.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:48 PM  |  reply

      Thanks, friend! I think you’ll really like it!

  26. Mrs. W
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:17 PM  |  reply

    Thank you! You’ve totally inspired me to guide my students to spiritual truths by using what they are already seeing, hearing, reading, and experiencing. Great insight!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 2:46 PM  |  reply

      Thanks, Mrs. W!!

  27. Elizabeth
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 3:53 PM  |  reply

    I appreciate your perspective so much, and I think you’re able to be objective in a way that some of us moms of teens aren’t always able to be. I loved the book and thought the movie was a great representation of it. The teenage girls I saw the movie with (including my almost 16-year old) are mature, thoughtful girls with so much depth, and I think John Green honors how challenging it is being a teenager in this day and age with his writing.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:50 PM  |  reply

      Love this, Elizabeth!

  28. Ariel
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 3:55 PM  |  reply

    Hey, Annie! 🙂 I’m a 14 year old girl who has read The Fault In Our Stars. Honestly, I didn’t cry and I didn’t get emotional because I’ve never been in a relationship and don’t desire to be for right now. I have a strong opinion about romance novels. For me, they stir up desires in my heart that I want to save for my future husband. I feel distant from God when I desire to be in a relationship. All in all, I don’t like how romance novels make me feel. I felt God pushing me to write how I feel about this topic. I agree with what you said, Annie: It’s ultimately your choice whether to see this movie or not.

    P.S I love all of your books, especially Speak Love 🙂

    God Bless

    • Yvette
      posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:10 PM  |  reply

      This is what it is really about.

      It isn’t so much about the sex. (However, I worked with teens for 1o years before I became a mom and I can never EVER believe that leaders of young life would show this to their teens…completely irresponsible).

      It is about how this movie draws our attention and desires away from God. Even in the previews, I recognized within myself this lie from the Devil, that I need to be romanced like that, that THAT kind of man can satisfy my desires and that true love and happiness is reckless, boundless and immoral.

      Not true. Lies.

      Let’s promote movies that promote God or at the very least point us to Him and his truth through beatiful and messy lives. Yes, maybe moral failure, but with grace forgiveness and redemption.

      Our teams are craving Love. Let’s show them the true source.

      • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:51 PM  |  reply

        These are the exact conversations that we should be having with teens. Thanks for the reminder.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:51 PM  |  reply

      Great thoughts, Ariel. 🙂

  29. Jules
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 5:35 PM  |  reply

    A faultless gold star for you, Annie. Great post.

    It’s important to remember that the Bible is chock full of horrific displays of immorality in the form of incest, murder, adultery, blasphemy, fornication, deceit –– the whole gamut.

    God, our father, doesn’t shield us from the brokenness and sin in our world. It’s our daily reality.

    Christ came and dwelt among us. He wasn’t better than the brokenness; he was immersed in it. He taught through it instead of fleeing from it.

    May God be glorified through this story and the conversations which are prompted by it.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:52 PM  |  reply

      Yes and amen, Jules. Thank you.

  30. Danielle Jones
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 7:35 PM  |  reply

    Thank you for sharing this! I always feel as if I’m standing alone in these convictions!! Well said.

  31. Bobbie
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 7:36 PM  |  reply

    Thank you, Annie. You never disappoint! ????

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:52 PM  |  reply

      Oh I don’t know about that, Bobbie. But thanks. 🙂

  32. Danielle Jones
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 7:45 PM  |  reply

    This is my first visit to your blog. I am going to stick around and see what else is going on here.:-)
    While I think it’s great that you have shared your opinion with us, I am of a select few, it seems, that does not think teens should be watching this. Actually I don’t want to see it. Once these images imprint on the mind, they are there…tainting the images of what purity actually is. In such a sexualized world, I think we’ve forgotten how to keep our hearts and minds guarded. Granted these are great conversational openers, but why do we need them. I keep the lines open with my 14 year old. We talk about sex, dying, drugs, homosexuality…reality. We minister to many different families with harsh lives. Living life with others, that’s where perfect conversation pieces come in.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:53 PM  |  reply

      Danielle, thanks for your opinion. I totally want my readers to hear all sides of this.

  33. Danielle Jones
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 7:45 PM  |  reply

    Forgot to sign

  34. Kiana
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 7:49 PM  |  reply

    Thanks for your thoughts Annie! I am sooo going to see this sometime soon! Can’t wait!!

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:54 PM  |  reply

      Thanks, Kiana!

  35. Julianne
    posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 8:49 PM  |  reply

    All I got from this post is that the reason my teenage daughter and I should see this movie is so that we can talk about sex. Do we really need a movie to prompt discussions like that? You say that the good in the movie outweighs the bad, particularly if the bad promotes discussion. What is the good? What makes the movie worthwhile? Can you write about that, please? Open and honest conversations – that we can have anyways – are not reason enough to spend time and money on a movie.

    • posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 11:03 PM  |  reply

      Hi Julianne- forgive me if the post felt slanted. I was responding to the emails I had received.

      Some parents absolutely need a movie to discuss certain topics. I think it would be hard to sit at a dining room table and discuss sex between two dying teenagers without some frame of reference. So I am grateful when films or TV give us conversation pieces.

      To what is good in TFIOS- so so much. I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but it is absolutely beautiful and entertaining. Read some reviews (but try not to read spoilers!). The characters are very likable and mature. There are funny parts to the story and deeply moving parts. There’s a great trip to Amsterdam in the film that includes a visit to the Anne Frank House, which I loved. It’s just a great movie.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for your comment.

  36. Sarah
    posted on Jun 07, 2014 at 2:15 AM  |  reply

    “Sex & Nudity
    5/10 Hazel and Gus kiss passionately a few times There is a love scene between Hazel and Gus. They kiss passionately and remove their shirts, Hazel is seen straddling Gus wearing a bra. She is seen unclipping her bra but we only see her back. They are later seen cuddling, presumably naked, but a sheet covers any nudity. Isaac and his girlfriend are seen kissing for a very long time and he is seen fondling her breast. Another girl makes a comment about this. A boy talks about the fact that he is a virgin and draws a diagram of the “circle of virgins” explaining why he is one.” -imdb parent advisory guide

    I’m sorry, how in the world is it honoring to Christ, whose Spirit indwells us and is witness to all we watch and think, to go see ANY MOVIE, no matter how moving, with this sexually explicit content? To sit in a theater and watch it happen, actors and actresses who have compromised their own purity to film it, characters in the movie being impure outside of marriage…and that aside, there’s simply watching the act itself. Even if it were a married man and woman you were watching, where in Scripture is your justification for being in the room, in a chair, watching sex happen while eating popcorn?? Is sex not to be a private act between a husband and wife? Is the marriage bed not to be holy and sacred and pure before the Lord? I don’t think God gives us a pass because it’s a good conversation starter for parents and teens. And if the response is that those scenes aren’t “real,” well, the brain doesn’t care if it’s “real”-it looks the same. (Except it’s actually cheaper and more repulsive in God’s eyes because it’s NOT real.)

    I am a youth director and I am deeply, deeply grieved by this entire discussion. I am grieved that it is being presented not only as good, but important to see. I’m grieved that it’s being advertised as something to take children to (yes, teenagers are children). And I am grieved that most people here are applauding.

    • Mary
      posted on Jun 26, 2014 at 8:17 PM  |  reply

      I totally agree with what the above post is saying. The Bible says not only to keep away from sin, but to also not enjoy watching it either. It also says to shun the very appearance of evil and for him that knows to do good and does it not it’s a sin. I do not see or understand the purpose of having your teenager watch the movie for the sake of having a discussion about sex. I do not watch movies with sex scenes. Period. I definitely won’t lead my child to believe it is ok. It is wrong on so many levels, but for one, you are watching two actors be closer than any unmarried couple should be and taking pleasure in it. I do have conversations with my children about sex and don’t need to watch it with them to get the conversation started. I have read your blog for years (silent reader:) but I had to pop up for this post.

  37. sara mattingly
    posted on Jun 07, 2014 at 5:35 AM  |  reply

    amazing. i loved very word you said and only wish i was on the same continent as my momma to watch it with her. the book was incredible and the movie, i know, will be good too. as a daughter of a very loving and cautious mom, i understand why some moms may try to stay away from a movie like this, but i am thankful for your insight. i wish that a movie like this would have come out when i was in high school because i think it would have brought up some good convos with my mom and peers. i am on the edge of my seat to see it when it comes to hong kong in august! 🙂

    • posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:18 PM  |  reply

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sara. Praying for you.

    • posted on Jun 13, 2014 at 6:16 PM  |  reply

      Sara – so fun to be scrolling down and see YOUR name! Small world.

      Annie – great thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I just finished the book last week and cried through the ending! I can’t wait to see the movie!

  38. Catherine Sanders
    posted on Jun 07, 2014 at 9:33 AM  |  reply

    Hey! I have been thinking this exact predicament through over the last 24 hours! Ann Hollis read the book and is interested in seeing the movie. Thank you for giving us “your two cents”…your opinion is respected and means a lot! I am going to also read the book and go from there! Hope you have a great summer!

    • posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:19 PM  |  reply

      Hey Catherine,

      Yes- read it for yourself and decide what is best for y’all. 🙂

  39. posted on Jun 08, 2014 at 7:44 AM  |  reply

    Love this post Annie. I’m reading the book now, I’m determent to read it before I watch it. I might have a different view on some things you have written about here, but I do agree that parents should let their teens watch it. watch the movie with them and talk after. My mom always did that with me when I was a teenager. I remember I watched Titanic and I had a billion questions about Jack and Rose’s relationship and I’m so happy mom watched it with me. And now when I’m an adult I see that if I had a kid now I would watch movies like that with them.

  40. posted on Jun 08, 2014 at 9:36 AM  |  reply

    I’ve been rolling this conversation around in my brain since reading the post and I think it’s even more important than I first thought.

    My kids are still young, but I can already sense these conversations coming for me. I’m a little terrified, honestly. The thing that strikes me most about what you said here is the bit about the movie being an accurate portrayal of the real love and real hurt teenagers feel. Gosh, that’s so important.

    I had wonderful parents as a teenager, and many too-mature things were off limits (mostly as they should have been). But, curiosity killed the cat and I managed to maintain the good girl facade while making some very destructive choices. The church wasn’t much help in that respect—all I heard there was what not to do and why. I had no idea my deep-seated desire for love and intimacy was not only normal but good, a thing put in our hearts by a loving and intimate God.

    I think about what it would feel like for teenage Amanda to sit next to a trusted adult and watch a movie where teenagers engage in honest, real-life struggles, and I feel relieved. Maybe then we could have talked not only about which are the best choices to make but why the not-best choices can look and feel so darn beautiful. Maybe we could have talked about the lovely things God designed us for and not just the things He wants to protect us from.

  41. cbed
    posted on Jun 08, 2014 at 3:47 PM  |  reply

    I cried through the book and I know I will cry through the movie. I even cried through this blog. I love this story. And I love you.

    • posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:16 PM  |  reply

      Love you too. Thanks.

  42. posted on Jun 08, 2014 at 10:18 PM  |  reply

    as an old young life leader & counselor to teens specifically, i say yes! to just about anything thats brings on the conversations of the hard topics in life that pushes us past the surface … what a way to setup those “awkward” topics & really experience the emotions that emerge through this film alongside your teen or teens you love. thanks for reviewing this annie!

    • posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:16 PM  |  reply

      Thanks for your thoughts, Meredith. I hope your conversations with students, around this and other things, is life-giving and driven with wisdom. Thanks for investing in the next generation!

  43. posted on Jun 09, 2014 at 10:57 AM  |  reply

    […] sex scene: – Going to defer to Annie F. Downs on this matter here because she speaks to The Issues of it better than I. – However, taking morality off the table, aesthetically the scene is […]

  44. Pam
    posted on Jun 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM  |  reply

    After seeing The Fault in our Stars listed on a couple of Summer Reading Lists and after reading your posts here about it, I decided it was worth checking out. And I did.

    As I started to read the book and ran across choice words, defiance against God, & pre-marital sex I really wondered why this book would be recommended by a leader of teens to teens. But, honestly, after reading the book in its entirety, reading this particular post and the comments, and thinking about it some more, I get it.

    And this is my take about it all.

    If your teen has already heard about the book and the movie and has a desire to read it or go see it, then you, as a parent, SHOULD be responsible enough to read the book and discuss it with your teen and/or go see the movie and discuss it with your teen. Ignoring it or banning your teen from it once they know about it because you’re fearful of the message it may be sending without allowing discussion about it is only going to cause your teen to want to read the book or see the movie even more. Rules without relationship equals rebellion every time. I will also say that allowing them to read the book or watch the movie without having a clue yourself is also irresponsible. And, yes, I can say this with assurance because I am a mother of teens : )

    On the other hand, if you know for sure your teen has no clue about the book or the movie and their friends are not talking about it, then for heaven’s sake let it be. We parents make things harder on ourselves sometimes and get in our own way.

    Personally, after reading the book, I have no desire whatsoever to see the movie. I liked the book enough to finish it but IF I had a teen that even knew it existed I would have some serious conversations with him about its content before even considering allowing him to read it, and I’m not so sure that seeing the movie would even make the cut.

    So, Annie, I think what you’ve said here is valuable and worthy and should be considered by all who are considering the question, Should I let my teen read or see The Fault in Our Stars?

    The answer to that question at your house should be given much consideration.

    • posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:15 PM  |  reply

      Thank you for your thoughts, Pam.

    • posted on Jul 22, 2014 at 12:58 PM  |  reply

      I think this is perhaps the most logical reply. I mean… I teach 6th graders. And many of them have walked into the school library and checked out FIOS. Do their parents know about it? Maybe. Maybe not. Does the actions of the characters glorify God? No. Do their actions reflect much of what today’s teens (and pre-teens) are exposed to (and encouraged to do) by media and their own peers? YES.

      And this is the reason I agree with Annie. I loved the book. And I liked the movie (the book to me was also better). I was turned on nor did I suddenly start desiring to have sex with anyone. So I’m not worried about this promoting sexual immorality. The book resonated with me more because it looks at relationships–between mother and daughter, father and daughter, father and mother, friends, and yes… boyfriend and girlfriends. It’s real and it’s genuine.

      As Christians, I think a lot of times we want to hide behind our Christianity. Let rules make us holy. If I stay away from this, God will be happy with me. BUT… what really is Christian approved stuff? And how do we relate to people who are non-Christians if we don’t understand the things that draw them or speak to them or the things they struggle/deal with? If you don’t watch it or read the book for your own teen, may it be of benefit for your neighbor’s teen? Or one of your kids’ friends? YOU NEVER KNOW. You never know the impact you might make by CHOOSING to be open and understanding. To not discount people because they make immoral choices. Not all our choices as Christians are constantly covered in morality. Let’s face it. We’re all sinners. We all screw up.

      Either way, my point (and I think Annie’s) is that this book and movie is EVERYWHERE. And as a girl who grew up in a Christian home… I probably would have read and seen the movie without my parents approval (not out of defiance necessarily, but simply because they wouldn’t have know what the movie was about to oppose it or maybe I wouldn’t have known fully the content without someone telling me). Your kids might be the same. They might be like me… open to reading any book someone tells me is a good read. Open to watching movies based off of a good book. Not interested in reading reviews for fear of spoilers. Heck… I watched Brokeback Mountain in theaters cause I had no idea what it was about. Does that mean I’m sinning each time I read or watch a movie that has immoral content? I don’t think so. I think God can use those things to help me a) have open discussions with others about life and how God fits into it; to have conversations about morality and stuff b) confront possibly places of immorality in my life.

      FIOS didn’t bother me. Neither does Parenthood. Neither does Harry Potter.

      But… I do cringe every time I see one of my 6th graders reading FIOS. I think they are too young for it, and I’d prefer they were older. That the issues presented in this story was saved for when they are more mature to understand them. So I see both sides to the coin, but I do not think it is fair to judge those who are okay with reading/watching FIOS (or stories like them).

  45. Melissa
    posted on Jun 10, 2014 at 4:46 PM  |  reply

    My 9 year old really wants to see this. yes or no?

    • posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:15 PM  |  reply

      Hi Melissa,

      I would say this film is not appropriate for a 9 year old.

  46. Kimo
    posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM  |  reply


    I’ve seen your point of view used many times by people as a way to rationalize what experiences their kids are exposed to including movies, video games, parties, festivals, concerts, music, books, etc. This type of thinking is self-deceiving which makes people feel better about the compromises they make in their life.

    Children and teenagers are very impressionable and what they are exposed to affects who they are and will become. As parents, part of our job is to shepherd our children so they are exposed to positive godly influences that God would be happy about. Our gut check is not our inner voice or how we feel. That can be deceiving. Our gut check is what God has to say in the Bible about what is moral and thus what is best for our well being.

    Would God want our children to emulate what the main characters in this story do? Would he want our children to think all the same thoughts? Would God want our children to have all these images and thoughts in their heads? The answer is obvious once you stop rationalizing. Phillippians 4:8-18

  47. Angela - Mom of Penny
    posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 4:18 PM  |  reply

    As a mother that has brought here daughters to Girls of Grace for many years because of their stance for purity, I am very disappointed in your view that, “And you need to talk about two cancer-stricken kids having sex because they love each other”. I feel by this saying that you are condoning premarital sex. I feel you have such a great platform for girls and now you are renigging on your stance that you make at GOG… So, if I am cancer stricken (as a mother of 6) is it “ok” for me to then go and have a sexual affair with a man I “love” other than my husband because I am going to die anyway? I know this… When I die, I will meet more Lord and Saviour…. I am looking for the words from him, “Well done thou good and faithful servant” rather than finding even though I may have had cancer I choose to have sex out of the biblical context… Please explain your reasoning!!! This is so troubling to young girls! You are sending mixed messages. I have not read the book nor have we seen the movie. But simply after the review you have given (sex out of what the Bible sees as biblical) we will not be doing neither. We will also be reviewing if we come to GOG in 2015 because of this stance you have made 🙁

    • posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:13 PM  |  reply

      Hi Angela,

      Please let me clarify. I do not agree with pre-marital sex. In fact, I said, “In The Fault In Our Stars, there are a few decisions made by teenagers that I do not agree with or believe are the most healthy and life-giving choices.”

      I never said that someone should break their marriage vows or be promiscuous, sick or not sick.

      What I am saying is that when you watch the film, you are going to see two teenagers who love each other that have sex and that is going to raise a lot of questions in the audience’s minds, particularly if the teen in the audience doesn’t believe in pre-marital sex but has watched two teen characters that are in love choose to do that.

      I think it is wiser for parents (who decide this film is appropriate for their teens) to see it with them rather than to have students see it alone so the parents are more prepared for conversation.

      I am absolutely not endorsing their behavior, and this post did not say that or imply that. I believe in purity and teaching students that saving sex for marriage is the best decision.

      I hope that explains my stance.

      • Angela - Mom of Penny
        posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:15 PM  |  reply

        This does explain yourself well and the woman that I have endorsed and believe that you are! THANK YOU for your clarification and quick response! My girl has been troubled over this review xo

  48. Melody
    posted on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:23 PM  |  reply

    I recently read TFIOS, am the mother of a teen and work often with teens in my church. I agree with your perspective on the sex scene in the book (have not seen the movie yet). The greater concern to me, to be sure to discuss with teens who have read the book was:

    The fact that the intelligent characters were the ones who had no faith in anything outside of themselves. TFIOS reinforces the cultural stereotype that anyone with half a brain has discounted the existence of a Biblical God. Intelligent people are the highest moral creatures, and anyone who has faith must have the reasoning of a slug.

    Parents are generally viewed as being aloof, while the teens, who would not be stupid enough to believe in God or an afterlife are the ones with the grounded, intelligent perspectives. Believing in Something, even Something with a capital S is not the same as believing in Jesus.

  49. starr
    posted on Jun 19, 2014 at 9:58 PM  |  reply

    I did go see this movie with my teenage daughter. She loves John Green books and has read many of them. As soon as I found out that I was having a child I prayed that GOD would give them a spirit of discernment because I want her to know in her heart what is right. She is very wise for her age adn after a fault in our stars she made the comment Mom you have taught me a lot but my friends and the society we live in has taught me a lot too. I was naive to that I thought if I was teaching her at home about GOD and the values that would be enough. Parents even strict ones talk to your children. Unless you never let them out of your sight or hearing range they will learn from someone else. IT is too easy these days and no we should not promote going to see movies where premarital sex the main concern but this movie is so much more than that. AND talking to my daughter about what Gus and Hazel believed was a great conversation of why she believes in GOD. Thank you Annie. you have been a life saver for our family. A single Mom with a teenage daughter . And I AM Strict to most of her friends so this was a good review. Thank you Annie.

  50. Klaer smith
    posted on Jun 22, 2014 at 6:20 AM  |  reply

    My 11year old would really like to read the book she knows about the stuff that goes on but the reviews say it is for 14s and up she is a very good reader so should I let her

  51. posted on Jul 27, 2014 at 9:59 PM  |  reply

    Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.
    Jesus is bigger than premarital sex and any and all the things in the secular realm.
    Every time I watch Parenthood I see grace. I see life and people who are hurting and struggling in our fallen world.
    The book did the same thing for me. It made me see and feel and think.
    So much more to say, but honestly, you expressed it all.

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