DEAR JOHN GREEN
I would like to tell you about the time that I bought The Fault in Our Stars at Target.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
I don’t buy books here.
Well, not really.
Usually I buy a bunch of shit I don’t need here. I always need books. But I am bored, with a cart full of shit that I don’t need and can’t afford, and I don’t really want to go home to my husband playing video games again, and there is a bright blue book over there with a cloud on it and I like the color blue and I like clouds.
I read the inside flap.
My eyes twitch inside my head and this little noise I’ve never heard before comes out of my face and I open the book.
“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”
That is me.
As it sometimes does for a reader (but not very often), the world reappears when I look up from the pages.
She is me.
Hazel Grace is me, except she wants to live, and I want to die.
Leaving behind the cart of shit I don’t need and can’t afford, I buy the book.
John, my name is Allie Burke. I want you to know that your book saved my life.
That day in Target was in the first year of my schizophrenia diagnosis. I had been institutionalized more than once, and my medication was making me miserable, and the universe was making me miserable, and I wanted to take my own life every single day.
And then The Fault in Our Stars was there, and it made me feel like an asshole. Your book made me feel like an asshole because here were two of the most amazing human beings I had ever come across in my fictional life—which is usually better than real life, as I’m sure you know—who desperately wanted to live but they couldn’t, and I could but wouldn’t.
It taught me that some infinities are bigger than other infinities, John.
I don’t know how many times I have read your book, but I can tell you that six months later, I was on the couch reading it yet again, and I threw it across the room when The Thing Happens and I started to cry, and my husband asked me why I was reading that fucking book again, and I told him I wanted a divorce.
I divorced him and then I wrote the best book I’ve ever written and will probably ever write.
John, I had never heard of you before that day in Target when I didn’t buy the cart of crap I didn’t need and couldn’t afford, but after I read The Fault in Our Stars, my Career in Reading All Things John Green began, and I want you to know that I am very experienced in this field. I was once sitting on the floor of a Barnes & Noble reading the bonus material in the anniversary edition of Looking for Alaska, which is where I read about your anxiety, and there was a reference to The Royal Tenenbaums, and I sent a photo of the text to my boyfriend since we had just watched this film, and his return text said that The Fault in Our Stars was unreadable and the film was a bore right before he broke up with me. Via text message. So I took the selfie with Looking for Alaska on the floor of a Barnes & Noble that now serves as my profile photo on Twitter.
John Michael Green, I think you are an amazing person for the unparalleled literature you write, and for Nerdfighteria, and for all the beautiful things you did for Esther Earl. You have done amazing things despite your anxiety, and our CEO, Sarah, does amazing things despite her anxiety, and I would be really honored if you would consider writing about mental illness for Stigma Fighters. It’s people like you that inspire us in this life.
Thank you for existing.
VP of Operations
ALLISON BURKE, EXECUTIVE BOARD DIRECTOR
Allison Burke is the Bestselling Author of seven literary publications including the acclaimed Paper Souls, the first entry into ‘sick-lit’ of its kind. Her writing has been called defiant and brutally honest, earning her the title The Queen of the Surreal by critics all over the world.
A Paranoid Schizophrenia survivor, Allie leads the Stigma Fighters Board of Directors, project manages Booktrope‘s GRAVITY imprint, and is the creator of Organic Coffee, Haphazardly. In her spare time she eats gluten-free pizza with her cat.