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What are you reading?

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. It’s about this girl named Hazel, and she has cancer, so she can’t breathe properly. She has to carry an oxygen tank wherever she goes and have tubes. She doesn’t go to a normal school; she goes to these special classes. Her parents like to keep positive things around the house to keep her motivated. And she has to go to a support group at a church every week with, like, 100 other cancer patients and people with other diseases. They talk about how they’re feeling and stuff.”

How did you start reading it?

“My friend Raquel read it; she just told me it was about this girl who meets this guy. His name is Augustus, but they call him Gus. He doesn’t have one of his legs. Also, my friend Kelsey read it and said it was really good. And a lot of people at my school read it. Usually, Kelsey and I read the same books. We talk about what happens in them: ‘I can’t believe that happened!’”

What kind of book is The Fault in Our Stars?

“It’s realistic fiction. They become friends. He offers to take her to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten.”

Is Hazel strong or scared?

“She’s a strong character. When she feels she wants something, she really wants it. She’s determined.”

What else have you read lately?

“I just read the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield. It’s a utopia kind of thing. You have to stay ugly until you’re 16, and then you get a surgery that makes you really pretty. You go and live in a different city, and you can do whatever you want. But if you’re special enough, you can get another surgery. They turn you into a Special, and you do special jobs for Special Circumstances. Those are the people who run everything.”

How did you start reading that one?

“My sister read it and said it was really good.”

What makes it good? Is it a commentary on society?

“It’s not really a commentary. It’s just well written, with a lot of action. The main character, Tally, and her best friend Shay, they’re the ones who want the surgery to become Specials. Other people don’t care, because they can just stay pretty for the rest of their lives. But Tally and Shay want the power to do other things.”

Excerpt from Uglies: “Tally sighed, tipping her feet again to follow. ‘Maybe that’s because they have better stuff to do than kid tricks. Maybe partying in town is better than hanging out in a bunch of old ruins.’ Shay’s eyes flashed. ‘Or maybe when they do the operation — when they grind and stretch your bones to the right shape, peel off your face and rub all your skin away and stick in plastic cheekbones so you look like everyone else — maybe after going through all that you just aren’t very interesting anymore.’” 

Do you have a favorite author?

“No, not really. A little while ago, I read Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull. Have you read The Spiderwick Chronicles? It’s kind of like that. Two people go to visit their grandpa. Their grandma was turning into a different creature and they didn’t know it. For a really long time, they didn’t know where she went. But then they found the creature, and when her name was spelled out, they were, like, ‘Oh, that’s Grandma!’ They had to change her back somehow.”

Do you read any magazines or newspapers?

“For history, sometimes we have to do current-event things, so you have to read the newspaper. Usually, my grandma will read the newspaper and then she’ll give it to me. I’ll look through to see if there’s anything. Or I’ll go to websites. I don’t really watch much TV because I play a lot of sports. I usually read at night before I go to bed.”

  • Name: TERALIN SHAWCROFT | Age: 13 | Occupation: STUDENT | Neighborhood: EL CAJON | Where interviewed: AT BARNES & NOBLE, GROSSMONT CENTER
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