Review | Turtles All The Way Down | John Green
Publication Date: October 10th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books
Page Count: 286
Why I read it: Because John Green is an insta-read author for me.
First Sentence: "At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time- between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M.- by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn't even begin to identify them."
Synopsis: "It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see." Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
My Thoughts: I have to admit that very little about the synopsis was compelling to me. The Best and Most Fearless Friend descriptor for Daisy sounded really juvenile and I wasn't really feeling the hi jinks that I thought were about to ensure with the billionaire fugitive.. Still, I pre-ordered this because I love John Green. I felt nervous for him. He has been so fantastically candid about his own struggles with mental illness (OCD) and with failing to follow up The Fault In Our Stars, and I knew he'd put a lot into writing this. I suppose the same is true for all authors, but when I get to peek behind the curtain I find it can make me feel compassion toward the author's process that I might not otherwise feel.
I am happy to report that I thought this book was fantastic. John Green is so incredibly skilled at capturing that feeling of young adulthood. That feeling where there are infinite possibilities ahead of you yet the present is all that you care about. Some criticize his characters and say that they're unrealistically deep for teenagers, but sometimes I feel like I was at my most thoughtful as a young adult. There is still so much to learn and so much to do as a teen and I remember worrying about the Infinite possibilities.
John Green's writing is like prose. I gobbled the book up in two days, but immediately after finishing I wanted to page back through and re-read my favorite parts. It is an introspective book. There wasn't a ton of action and I guessed correctly on some of the major plot points, but that didn't matter. The power of this book is in the way he describes Aza and what it is like for her to be caught in the ever tightening thought spirals. Page 228 was one of the most terrifying things I've read; it truly gave me a bit of anxiety reading it. I am very curious about how individuals who suffer with mental illness are going to find this book. I wonder if it'll be triggering, or if it will make people feel understood. I suppose it'll be different for everybody. I also wonder if Green's own OCD was made better or worse by writing.
Overall, this book is a hit. It's not likely going to be made into a movie a la The Fault In Our Stars, but in many ways I liked it better than TFIOS. Aside from Aza, most of the characters were flat, but I think that was a choice. Aza isn't yet at a place where she can get outside of her own head and see other people for who they are, and I found this choice to make the story all the more realistic.
Favorite Quote: "And I knew I would remember that feeling, underneath the split-up sky, back before the machinery of fate ground us into one thing or another, back when we could still be everything."
Read Alike: Eleanor and Park
Rating: 5/5 It's another John Green classic. There's something about his storytelling that when it hits, it sticks with you. (Not talking to you Paper Towns).
Have you read it? What are your thoughts?
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