One of the newer novels being brought into the classroom, this story of falling in love in the midst of tragic circumstances has quickly become a favorite among young adults. Though the book has mainly been targeted toward a younger audience, The Fault in Our Stars has managed to capture the attention of people of all ages. Through the voice of a spectacular female protagonist, this novel tackles serious themes like suffering and the overwhelming inevitability of death in ways that do not leave students struggling with the misfortune of fate, but instead wanting to discuss how people face the harsh realities of their own uncertain futures.

Hazel is quite the eloquent character, so her complex narration can be analyzed in the classroom through a deeper look at both her vocabulary and her unique perspective on life. Some students may be able to relate to the very sensitive, tragic events in the story, and teachers should encourage a delicate and insightful discussion of these concepts.


Key Facts

  • Length: 313 pages
  • Lexile Measure: 850
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Recommended Grade Band: 9 – 11

Hazel and Augustus are two teenagers battling their own respective forms of cancer. After meeting one another at a support group, they quickly fall in love as they discuss the ideas of inevitable fate and impending death. Though Hazel is the one to always worry about how her disease and eventual death will hurt others, it is Augustus whose cancer spreads throughout his whole body and brings death that much closer to him. The Fault in Our Stars details the short-lived, but amazingly passionate relationship between Hazel and Augustus, who both take their respective fates in impressive strides.

Content Warning: The Fault in Our Stars contains some sexual references and incidents involving drinking.

Your students will love:

  • Hazel's engaging narration as she and Augustus begin their journeys through the hardships of their respective illnesses
  • Humor that remains throughout the novel, even during the more serious moments

Students may have problems with:

  • The seemingly arbitrary nature of fate presented in the novel
  • The complicated language in which Hazel narrates
  • The love story between Hazel and Augustus may come off as cheesy to some readers.

Objectives for Teaching The Fault in Our Stars

  • Identify and understand key themes in the novel as they relate to concepts of fate, love, and death.
  • Recognize the Shakespearean origin of the novel's title and understand its significance in the overall story.
  • Make predictions about the fate of the two main characters.
  • Compare the two main characters' different outlooks on life and their attitudes toward their respective diseases.
  • Identify, analyze, and track metaphors, such as Augustus's cigarette, as they recur throughout the novel.
  • Discuss the significance of Hazel's favorite novel as it relates to her own story.
  • Consider the meaning of the phrase, "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities."

Key Elements and Techniques

  • Allusion
  • Figurative Language
  • Foreshadowing
  • Metaphor
  • Personification
  • Symbol

Themes and Motifs

The Fear of Death — Everyone is afraid of dying, though many people interpret that fear in different ways. While some may fear the idea of oblivion in the afterlife, others are concerned about being totally unremarkable (and thus forgotten when they die) during their living days. Regardless of how a person defines the fear, the knowledge of impending death takes a significant toll on his or her psyche.

Related Works:

The Healing Power of Love — The pain and suffering described in the novel is made tolerable only through the overarching love story of Hazel and Augustus. The presence of love in a person's life can be sufficient to combat the immense struggles that may be endured otherwise.

Related Works:

The Unfairness of Fate —  There's no valid reason to explain why two young teenagers are subjected to the cruelties of cancer. Fate simply cannot be explained, and this is a difficult concept that the characters must make peace with.

Related Works:


  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Children's Choice Teen Book of the Year 2013


A film version of The Fault in Our Stars was released on June 6, 2014.

External Resources

Available from Prestwick House:

Find more great resources for teaching The Fault in Our Stars in your classroom here.

More Teacher's Guides to Literature:

See all our Teacher's Guides to Literature here.