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En route to Augustus’s house to watch “V for Vendetta,” Hazel comments on the jolting quality of Augustus’s driving. Augustus admits having failed the driving test three times, revealing that he is an amputee, having lost a leg to cancer. He speculates he only passed the test as a “cancer perk,” or the special favors cancer kids get, like famous autographs or free passes on homework. When the subject of school comes up, Augustus lets on about being a sophomore in high school, having only missed one year from cancer.
Hazel recounts the details of her own cancer saga. Her parents pulled her out of school at thirteen when she was diagnosed with terminal stage IV thyroid cancer, and she describes the surgery and chemotherapy to remove her lung tumors. At fourteen Hazel developed pneumonia in her lungs, and probably would have died if not for Maria, one of her doctors, who was able to drain the fluid from her lungs. Since then, Hazel has stayed alive with the help of an experimental drug called Phalanxifor. It hasn't worked for most patients, but in Hazel it's essentially stopped the growth of her lung tumors. Throughout the ordeal Hazel managed to get her GED and now takes courses at the community college. Augustus flirtatiously remarks that being a college girl must explain Hazel’s aura of sophistication.
When Hazel meets Augustus’s parents she distinctly notes they refer to him as Gus, not Augustus. She likes the idea of a single person having two names. Augustus shows Hazel his basement bedroom, which is packed with basketball trophies. He tells her how one day, while shooting free throws, he had a sort of existential epiphany. Suddenly the nature of throwing a spherical ball through a raised toroidal hoop seemed absurd. The epiphany came the weekend before his amputation. Hazel is in awe of a boy who once took existential free throws.
Hazel and Augustus agree to read one another’s favorite books. Augustus lends Hazel a copy of The Price of Dawn, a book based on his favorite video game. Hazel describes her strong feelings for An Imperial Affliction. Augustus drives Hazel home after the movie, and she agrees to call him once she’s finished his book.
Hazel wakes to her mother jubilantly announcing that it's Hazel’s thirty-third half birthday. Hazel agrees to meet her former schoolmate Kaitlyn at the mall to please her mother. At the mall, Hazel purchases the two sequels to the novel Augustus gave her. When Kaitlyn arrives, the girl’s somewhat one-sidedly discuss Kaitlyn’s high-school love affairs and shop for shoes. Kaitlyn selects several pair of shoes, whereas Hazel purchases a pair of flip-flops merely to have something to buy. Hazel feigns exhaustion and the girls go their separate ways. With two hours to kill, Hazel begins reading the sequel to The Price of Dawn, called Midnight Dawn. Hazel notes how violent the series is, but there is something exciting about it that reminds her of the series she read as a child when she could immerse into “an infinite fiction.”
While reading, Hazel is approached by a young child who asks about the tube in her nose. Hazel explains it's called a cannula. It connects to the oxygen tank she has to carry with her and it helps her breathe. She allows the child to try it on. Soon the child’s mother appears and apologetically takes the child away. Hazel reflects on the natural innocence of the child, contrasting the normalcy of their short interaction with her strained time with Kaitlyn.
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