An Open Letter to John Green Re: The Fault in Our Stars, and other stuff

Dear Mr. Green

My name is Kate, I’m 25 and I am currently teaching English in Costa Rica. I just wanted to write in order to say that you, sir, are a magnificent bastard. You’ve achieved what cannot even be said for my favorite books and authors. In fact, even in all my years of devouring and relishing in the amazing books the world has to offer, what your book, The Fault in Our Stars, achieved was a first. I started the book last night around 9pm, and finished around 5am-the fastest I’ve ever read a book (I’m not a slow reader but I’m not a fast reader either). I didn’t even grant that privilege to the Harry Potter books, and I willingly went to every midnight book release as a teen. Even more, for the first time I cried reading a book. Like…REALLY cried. I’ve read so many books that have drop kicked my heart and soul before picking them back up and throwing them down on the ground, but I never felt the urge to cry while reading them. It’s not like I’m not a crier, either. I’ve cried lots of times, when I’ve lost someone I love, when I was heartbroken, when there was no reason to cry, when I was watching a sad movie, when I saw a loved one crying (I’m an empathetic crier…if I see someone crying I am usually right behind them). I’ve tried crying while reading sad books, trying to talk myself through it, “Man, this is awfully sad…ok, Kate…its ok to cry, this is sad stuff, start crying….now……aaaand now…..fucking robot.” I was once “successful” when reading My Sister’s Keeper, but that was just my eyes watering up, and it didn’t even feel like a genuine cry to me.

But while reading The Fault in Our Stars, I found myself hiccuping back the oncoming sobs that were welling up in my chest. My nose was sniffling and my vision was getting blurry. All of a sudden I was full on sobbing, the sobs shaking my bed and my tears and falling onto my iPad screen. It made me glad that it was 3AM and my roommates were asleep, because, let me tell you, it was not pretty. You played a pretty heavy hand, sir. The amount of books I’ve read is not nearly as high as I would like, but I’ve read enough to know that your book will be imprinted on my heart forever, and not imprinted in the super creepy Twilight way, but like someone held my heart under a 3D printer, flipped a switch, and all of the emotional vulnerabilities, all of the hope, laughter, and positivity I felt while reading were book was as real as if I had lived it myself. I’m fortunate enough to not know anyone who’s had cancer and I’m even more fortunate to have never had cancer myself, and in that sense I feel like I am an intruder in the community of those whose lives have been torn apart by cancer (by the way, my super cool Canadian roommate was reading The Emperor of Maladies before I started this book, and both you and he have convinced me I need to read it).

I guess I should stop and apologize right about now for my stream of consciousness style of writing. It’s a bad habit, and it makes me look like a pretentious wanna be when I say I like to write and then this is the kind of stuff I produce. I really need to work on that. Ok, back to the letter.

Would you believe that I have never written a fan letter (or any other kind of letter) to an author before? It’s not that I’m bad at letters (except I just told you that I’m basically kind of horrible at them, so nevermind), because I’ve kept a pen pal for 10 years, and you’d think that Hazel’s experience writing to and then meeting her favorite author might dissuade me from writing this letter, but I can’t knock this feeling like my life has just shifted exponentially just by reading your book. It feels like up until this point my literary past has been a fuzzy, faded TV screen that only straightens out the picture when you hit the side of the TV. The only person that’s come close to that kind of feeling is Steve Kluger, and if you haven’t read his stuff, I would highly recommend it. I don’t even know what my end goal with this letter is. I’m not looking for an “in” to the writing world (do people who are writers write to you expecting you to help them become successful? I don’t know why I think they do but I imagine its happened to some authors and I can imagine it’s frustrating) or a response or anything of the kind. 

I think what I want to say is this: Holy fuck.

Ok, that felt good.

Keep being the magnificent bastard you are.



Kate Dowd


Ok, so LIFE! Life has been awesome. And busy. I promise I’m trying to write more, I really am. March was great-we went to places like Playa Conchal and Manuel Antonio, and I found out I was going to be Teacher of the Month for March and April. My roomies are fucking awesome people and they put up with my weirdness, which is also a plus. Now that I’m settled in more I am trying to get back to focusing on my health by working out more. I had a session with my friend Sharai and she kicked my butt, haha. I was definitely hurting afterwards. I’m also working on practicing Spanish more-one of my students wants to start running with me, and Gabby, one of the receptionists at the school and I are going to do an intercambio, so she can practice her English and I can practice my Spanish. It’s actually funny because I’ve felt so defeated going into stores and trying to speak in Spanish and automatically being directed to the English speaking employee, but this Saturday we went out to eat and the waiter approached us and sheepishly asked us if we spoke Spanish. I was, more or less, jubilant. And slightly in love with this waiter. That same night I also learned a valuable phrase: Tira la camisa, batistero! Which means, “Take off your shirt, drummer!” Yup. That’s a keeper.

Wednesday I am headed down to Panama. Well, technically San Jose first to break up the trip a little bit and then I am going down to Bocas del Toro where I will relax on the beach for a few days, reading and soaking up the sun and eating good foods and drinking good….drinks. 😉 But mostly relaxing. It will also be a good test of how I do traveling alone for my future endeavors (Europe? Cross country trip around America? All possibilities), so I am excited. Anyways, I should end it here otherwise I will never finish this blog, even though I didn’t write all I wanted to say, I don’t have the time for that, nor do I have the attention span, so see ya on the flip side.



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