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Book review: 'This Star Won't Go Out' shares late teen's memoir, impact

By Elizabeth Reid

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 1 2014 5:30 p.m. MST

The Earl family in February 2010, including the late Esther Earl, who had cancer, and her parents, Wayne and Lori Earl, center front.

Dutton Children's Books

"THIS STAR WON'T GO OUT," by Esther Grace Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl, Penguin Books, $19.99, 431 pages (nf) (ages 12 and up)

Esther Grace Earl always wanted to be a writer and, because of an unending desire to put her thoughts to words, kept many journals throughout her short teen years. “This Star Won’t Go Out” is a memoir containing her thoughts and drawings, beginning with before she was diagnosed with cancer and ending just days before she died at 16 in 2010 from thyroid cancer.

Excerpts from her parents and siblings, as well as countless color photographs showing Esther’s life, are also showcased. Memories from other friends, including award-winning author John Green, are included in this book as well.

Esther was a girl who loved life and believed in living it with joy. One of five children, she was the child who was the closest to her parents. She credited their tight relationship to her having cancer and the maturing effect it had on her. Esther loved her siblings and enjoyed the time she spent with them. From the older sister, who rose to the occasion as caretaker, to the baby brother, who just needed attention, Esther saw the good in every member of her family.

Although she was homebound for many years, Esther managed to make a significant difference and impact in the lives of people throughout the United States through her online interactions.

Author John Green dedicated his best-seller “The Fault in Our Stars” to Esther and wished she had lived long enough to read it. Other people were so uplifted by her good attitude in the face of a deadly disease that they followed her YouTube channels and chat groups. When Esther died, her massive online support system mourned.

Because of Esther’s popularity, her parents were able to found the nonprofit organization This Star Won’t Go Out. Since her death, this entity has raised more than $130,000 to help families who are struggling financially because of having a child with cancer.

“This Star Won’t Go Out” has clean language and deals with difficulties associated with cancer and death. While its young author died in 2010, her legacy lives on in this inspiring volume.

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She can be reached at bizziereid@gmail.com.

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