Written by: Esther Earl, with Lori and Wayne Earl
Publication Info: 2014, Dutton Books
One Line: Esther Earl passed away from thyroid cancer in 2010 at the age of 16, but her story is told with her journal entries, internet videos, and messages, along with writing from her friends and family.
Brief Summary: This is the memoir of a young woman who left the earth too soon. Esther Earl was only 12 years old and living in France when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which is, most of the time, very curable when kids have it. However, Esther’s cancer was more advanced, and her lungs were already compromised. The middle of five children, Esther loved to write and was a huge Harry Potter fan. She kept numerous journals, the text of which has been used for this book. She was also actively involved in fandom on the internet, especially as she got sicker. During her illness, the family moved back to the United States, where she underwent treatment in Boston. At first, it seemed her treatment was working, but then she
Thoughts: It is difficult to say anything but good things about a memoir of a child with cancer, which is, interestingly, one of the things John Green rails against in The Fault in Our Stars and in the forward to this book: that we have a tendency to think of cancer patients as somehow more noble than the rest of us, rather than as full human beings. Overall, this is a great book for those curious about a young life cut short by cancer, but if I had one large complaint, it would be that the book does, in fact, render Esther Earl to be a hero, someone who knew more about life than the rest of us, and someone who should inspire us to live better every day. Perhaps this is an odd complaint, and made only because of the forward, but it does feel like the book still creates a certain distance from Esther. Her writing is there, but so are her parents’ posts on Caring Bridge, which are always “keep pushing forward, she is an inspiration” type posts – it might have been better just to have Esther’s writing, in order, to tell the story of her struggle. The rest could have been included as an appendix, to be read only after we read about Esther’s experience. It is also a flaw that there are places where the entries are out of order. In addition, the very end of the book, much like an appendix, is actually Esther’s fiction, which is barely mentioned through the 430 page book. This might have been better interspersed through the book, because it was such a surprise when it arrived that it felt like it was from a different book. All of that being said, this is a very interesting companion piece to The Fault in Our Stars, as it tells the true story of a disease, and Esther was a very special young woman. Things like this should, in fact, teach us the importance of caring for our loved ones and living each day to the fullest, even if we would rather they didn’t happen at all.
Author Information: From www.tswgo.com: “Esther (Persian for "Star") Grace was born on August 3, 1994 in Beverly, Massachusetts. She was the bridge between two older sisters, Abby and Evangeline, and two younger brothers, Graham and Abraham. In November 2006, Esther was diagnosed with metastasized papillary thyroid cancer in Marseille, France, with extensive tumors already in her lungs. Following a thyroidectomy and seven months of treatment, her family moved back to New England for her continued treatment at Boston Children's Hospital and the Jimmy Fund Clinic. Esther patiently endured radioiodine treatments, x-rays, CT scans and MRI’s, a bi-pap machine, extensive medications, occasional stays in the hospital, and eventually experimental chemotherapy. As Esther's need for supplemental oxygen increased, her mobility decreased. Yet she found new avenues for meaning, investing herself in growing online friendships, creating videos and a cyber presence as "crazycrayon" and "cookie4monster4." She thrilled in her mild escapades into virtual stardom, embracing her self-proclaimed nerdiness as she dispensed advice, all-night talkfests, and free hugs.
On August 25, 2010, much too soon, cancer silenced Esther and stilled her slender fingers. In 16 years she packed a lot of living and loving into her life, and loved well those who surrounded her. Esther didn't let her light stop shining—This Star Won’t Go Out continues to remind us of her love for others.”