‘Turtles All the Way Down’ by John Green

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Lea Killian
Staff Writer

Often in young adult fiction, stories about teenagers in high school can feel all too familiar.

When you read, you do not want to feel like you are reading about your own life—after all, many of us use reading to escape reality.

While author John Green has not broken into the young adult fantasy genre yet, he never tells a story quite like you would expect.

Green’s fifth book, “Turtles All the Way Down” following the highly praised “The Fault in Our Stars” tells the adventurous tale of Aza, a young girl from Indianapolis trapped inside her own mind.

Aza deals with what every character in a young adult book deals with: drama with her friends, an overprotective mother and the stress of hunting down a 100,000-dollar treasure hidden by a fugitive billionaire who just happens to be the father of her old camp crush, Davis Pickett.

You know, just regular problems.

Unlike her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, there is more going on in the depths of Aza’s mind than seeking out the fortune.

She is bothered.

Aza questions whether or not she is truly the author of her own story, whether she is the painter or the canvas.

More than that, she worries about the bacteria living inside her.

Are they really the ones in control?

She thinks about it when she eats.

She thinks about it while she’s doing homework.

She thinks about the millions upon millions of germs residing in her body.

These intrusive thoughts interrupt her life, trapping her inside an ever-tightening spiral within her mind.

Inspired by John Green’s very own struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, “Turtles All the Way Down” will leave you with an unprecedented level of understanding of what it is like to live with an invisible illness.

In one of his popular ‘Vlogbrothers’ YouTube videos, Green asks, “If I can’t choose my thoughts, and I am at least in part made out of those thoughts, then am I actually the captain of this ship I call myself?”

Similarly, despite the madness going on in her everyday life, the inescapable spiral continues to be Aza’s most difficult battle.

In this story, John Green continues to be the voice of a generation.

While some readers reasonably find his characters to be too similar, he never fails in capturing the spirit of what it is like to be young, and eternally full of both hope… and dread.

Shailene Woodley, the twenty-six-year-old actress that played Hazel Grace in the movie adaptation of “The Fault in Our Stars” said it best when Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People issue in 2014 featured Green:

“He acknowledges the intelligence and vulnerability that stem from those beautiful years when we are, for the first time, discovering the world and ourselves outside of our familial stories.”

Because of John’s innate story-telling ability, not only will readers be caught in the whirlwind of treasure hunting and mystery solving, but also find their hearts hurting, and then healing, with each turn of the page.

To read this book is to live a life different than your own, to see the world in a more complex, terrifying manner, and lastly, to understand that we all hurt in different ways.

I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.


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