“The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green and bookstores around the country celebrated Esther Day on Aug. 3, the birthday of teenager Esther Earl, who died in 2010 and to whom “Fault” is dedicated.
Green met Earl at a “Harry Potter” convention in 2009 and told USA Today that he had tried to write a book about children diagnosed with cancer before meeting her but that getting to know Earl taught him that “kids with stage 4 cancer can be just as funny, and as normal and as afraid as any other kid,” he told USA Today, though he has noted in the past that "I don’t want people conflating Esther with Hazel (they’re very different)," as he wrote on his Tumblr. "And it’s extremely important to me that I not claim to be telling Esther’s story." A book titled “This Star Won’t Go Out,” which is a collection of Earl’s letters, stories, and other material, was released this past January.
Green told USA Today that he and his brother, Hank, brought up the idea of a holiday on her birthday to her while she was still alive. Earl suggested “celebrating friends and family and love,” the author said. “The kinds of love that are too often overlooked in our culture: love among friends and family.” The holiday’s message is “telling the people you love that you love them, even when it's difficult to do so,” he said. “In fact, especially when it's difficult to do so. We have a holiday for romantic love, but love isn't just about romance, so that's why Esther created Esther Day.”
Some bookstores also celebrated Esther Day this year, according to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness. At the store BookPeople in Austin, Tex., the store’s children’s book buyer Megan Dietsche Goel worked with young adult specialist Ta’necia Cannon and the store’s Teen Press Corps, a group of teenagers who suggest ideas to store staff, to create a display to promote “Star” this past January. The group eventually decided to take questions from Earl’s book like “If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?” and asked customers to write responses on paper stars that were hung in the bookstore.
Penguin Young Readers Group director of marketing of middle grade and YA Lisa Kelly said she used the BookPeople idea as a jumping-off point for creating materials for this month’s Esther Day. She sent out an easel and stars, among other materials, to various bookstores.
Rakestraw Books in Danville, Calif. was one of the stores that participated and owner Michael Barnard said he took pictures of customers filling out stars and kept track of the hashtag “#EstherDay” on social media. “We just ran with it,” he told Shelf Awareness.