Title: This Star Won’t Go Out
Author: Esther Earl (& others)
Genre/Audience: Nonfiction, memoir, young adult
Publication: Dutton Juvenile, 2014
This Star Won’t Go Out is a very interesting piece of nonfiction. It’s the story of Esther Earl, a girl who died in 2010 at age 16 from cancer. In most ways, she was your average teenage girl, but she was also very sick and had been for several years. She also experienced a bit of fame and notoriety when she befriended bestselling author, John Green, who met her several times and mentioned her in his vlogs. This memoir was published posthumously and tells the story of Esther’s life, illness, courageous battle, and online friendships she formed with fellow Harry Potter fans and “nerdfighters.” It contains a variety of things including photos, sketches, her journal entries and letters, updates from her family and friends, and more. It’s really a little bit of everything combined together to tell a complete story of her young life.
I had heard briefly of Esther Earl before this book came out, but knew just enough about her to be interested in wanting to know more. What I found in this book was the touching story of a young girl who was wise beyond her years after dealing with endless treatments and lonely days spent in bed, feeling awful as a result of her illness and its harsh treatments. I saw what she experienced and all that she endured, but I also saw the wittiness and humor that made so many people love and care for her. She was smart, sweet, funny, creative, and incredibly brave.
I also thought that the friendships she forged online were touching. She was a huge Harry Potter and John Green fan who considered herself a “nerdfighter,” a group started by John Green that has grown heavily throughout the years. Esther met a fellow group of nerdfighters online. The large group chatted frequently, and several members were even lucky enough to meet Esther in real life, along with John Green, who joined in the gathering that served as Esther’s “Make a Wish” wish. She connected to and touched many lives despite her debilitating illness.
All in all, this was a touching story and a real life glimpse inside a young person’s struggle with cancer. It was both heartbreaking and beautiful. I’m giving it three stars because it was good and I enjoyed getting to know more about the life and story of Esther Earl, but ultimately, it’s not a favorite or one that I will re-read.
My Rating: 3/5