“I'm in love with you," he said quietly.I remember the first time I read that passage. I loved the entire thing, along with all the other almost 66,000 words in that book. I loved how quirky Augustus sounded as he spoke to Hazel. I loved that he blurted the words out, all in one breath practically. I loved that Augustus had the courage to speak what was on his mind.
"Augustus," I said.
"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
I remember the second time I read the passage. I still loved it.
By the third time I read it, I'd gotten far more into writing (as opposed to just reading) and so I'd learned how to critique an author's writing, their characters, and whether or not the dialogue feels real. So when I read that quote, again, not only did I still love it, but I could appreciate it as a reader and a writer.
And what I found was this. In the hands of anyone else besides John Green, the way Augustus spoke would have been laughable. No one speaks that way, one might have said. Or, Augustus should have taken a breath while he poured his heart out. Or he should have at least seemed as though he was thinking about what he had to say while he was saying it. Perhaps Augustus should have stammered?
But no. The way Augustus launched into those words was pure Augustus Waters. It wasn't odd for him to speak that way because Green did a fantastic job characterizing the boy. He wrote an odd, quirky, intelligent, funny, lovable character who speaks in a mature, complex, and utterly enthralling way. As a reader, that speech was, in effect, expected. And as a writer, it is something I can strive to write.