By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY
Esther Earl, an avid reader and star of quirky YouTube videos, diedat age 16 in 2010, four years after she was diagnosed with thyroidcancer.
Two years later, John Green dedicated his teen novel, The Fault in Our Stars, to Esther. The best seller is narrated by Hazel, a quirky 16-year-old girl with thyroid cancer.
Now Esther is about to become an author.
A collection of her writings, This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl, will be published by Dutton on Jan. 28, 2014, with a foreword by Green. Its cover is revealed here for the first time.
Esther'sparents, Wayne and Lori Earl, both teachers at Quincy (Mass.) College,say they love Green's novel and were delighted that it's being adaptedas a movie starring Shailene Woodley.
But they say nothing compares to seeing a book with Esther's name on the cover.
Her dad, 53, says Esther, the third of five children, started writing stories when she was just 5 or 6.
"She would have loved to be an author," adds her mom, who's 50.
Green,who met Esther at a 2009 convention of Harry Potter fans, is deferringquestions about Esther's book to her parents. But he has often said thatHazel, his fictional narrator, shouldn't be confused with Esther.
Aformer student chaplain at a children's hospital, Green struggled towrite a novel about teens with cancer, but found it too bitter andangry. In 2011, he told USA TODAY that getting to know Esther - inperson and online - helped him realize that "kids with stage 4 cancercan be just as funny, and as normal and as afraid as any other kid."
The Fault in Our Stars, released in early 2012, has spent 69 weeks on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list. It's currently No. 7.
LoriEarl read a manuscript of Green's novel in one sitting, "sobbingthrough parts of it. At first, I kept seeing Esther, but the more I readit, the more it seemed fictitious. John got right all the detailsabout living with cancer."
Wayne Green planned to self-publishhis daughter's letters, journal entries and short stories. He shared thecollection with Green who showed it to his editor who decided topublish it with family photographs and a focus on the last two years ofEsther's life.
Her dad says, "It's our way of holding on to her and sharing all the love she had."
A letter to written by Esther to her parents on their anniversary:
"Wayne & Lori Earl . . .
It's your anniversary! Do you guys know what that means?!?
You've been together/married 23 (or was it 24?) years! Cool.
Well, I'm sorry that we can't do anything more special or romantic
for your birthday. Seriously . . . who wants to have a lame anniversary? Well, it shouldn't matter if you love each other : )
Parents, I love you two. So much. I am so lucky to have such amazing people raising me. Because . . . really, I wouldn't be who I am today if not for the love and care of you two. Please realize that you are amazing. I thank God that He blessed us with such loving people. Cancer is hard. I wouldn't have made it this far if it weren't for my family. Thank you, very much for being here for me. It makes it seem less hard. I know I sound pretty sappy, but I can't write in pen how much you two are to me. Just know that I love you, and I wouldn't trade our poor, houseless family full of love for the world."