When I told people I was going to Indiana, many cocked their head to the side and asked why. I don’t know how you explain why you love something. But I think that many people might relate to the experience of doing crazy things because of love. My friend Emily and I, along with millions of other readers, love John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars. Although, I am not quite sure how many of those readers would plan a TFIOS pilgrimage.
Our United flight began its descent to Indianapolis. The captain indicated that we needed to turn off our electronic devices. I pulled out my ear buds after just having listened to John Green read chapter five. As I looked out the window, the colors seemed more vibrant. It turns out the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, unless the grass is in Indianapolis. Literally.
The first spot from the book that we checked out was Holliday Park. Since it wasn’t within walking distance of our hotel, we took a bus. Although this only got brief mention in the book, there was much more going on in this spot than we anticipated. Despite the fact that Hazel describes the park as a kind of geographic inconvenience that prevents her from driving directly to Augustus, she also had some happy memories there. There was a great playground for children. The flowers were beautiful. We wandered around and took a look at the Ruins. We also met some interesting people. We met Amy and her rescue dog Hugo. We met Krembo, a Bronx native and former teacher, who moved to Indy 20 years ago and now travels the county with his sideshow. A short hike and we found ourselves at the White River. There seemed to be so many people (and their pets) taking advantage of the outdoor space. Verdict? . . . Loved it.
Another place from TFIOS that was a priority was the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). When we got to the museum, it started pouring so we spent some time exploring the exhibitions (which I also enjoyed). The building itself is architecturally interesting. The grounds also have beautiful landscaping. We walked the 100 Acres in search of the Funky Bones sculpture.
Out of all the Indianapolis locations in the book, this is the one that stood out to me the most. When I first read the book, it didn’t even hit me that it actually existed until I stumbled upon it via the Internet, the keeper of knowledge. One of the things that I liked most was seeing how my visualization did not match up with the reality. I also could not fit the entire piece in picture so I was glad the gift shop had a postcard of the whole work.
As we approached the sculpture, there was a group of children jumping across the bones. It is true, they literally cannot resist. To make the experience more eerie, I heard a mom shout, “Esther, do you want to come with us?” This was one of those moments where you feel like the universe is conspiring in your favor. Seriously, what were the odds that a young girl named Esther (which I would consider not that common) playing on the sculpture used in a book dedicated to another Esther? Since it had rained, I was a little nervous about standing on the sculpture, because it made gaining purchase on it questionable. But stand we did :). It amazes me how the children were just leaping between the bones like hopscotch. Oh to be young!
As we were making our way back (and because I have a bad sense of direction), we also found the basketball court sculpture that Hazel mentions, which I totally did not know also existed.
Emily and I spent out last morning in Broad Ripple. Now this was a neighborhood we had wanted to visit then decided to skip, because we didn’t think that we’d have enough time to squeeze it in. But as I was listening to the book I discovered that it was briefly mentioned and someone told us it was definitely a place that we wouldn’t want to miss. And I am glad we went. There were so many cool stores and places to eat. We had brunch at Petite Chou. The omelet was divine, but the sour dough bread topped with cinnamon was beyond. There was also a cute pet store, where I was able to buy some gifts for my puppy, who was surely missing me at home.
One of the things I found lacking in Indianapolis was a convenient and well-stocked bookstore. We found one in Broad Ripple called Big Hats Books. It had great books for all aged readers and of all interests in a relatively small space. And they had awesome reading-themed buttons that I bought to add to my school bag. They did have copies of The Fault in Our Stars available and we bought one to pass on to the staff at our hotel.
This trip was incredible. I have never read a story that made me want to travel to its setting. But I am forever grateful that TFIOS sent me to Indianapolis.