Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Published: October 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Like it
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russle 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.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see” (p. 9).
John Green has finally released another book, and one about a girl navigating life with anxiety and OCD no less. In the promotion for his new book, Green revealed that this story is a special one as he deals with these things as well. No wonder it took a while for him to finish—but the wait was well rewarded!
Green has a style of writing in the YA genre that is uniquely his own. His characters deal with tough issues in a very teenager way, but they are also very smart, which is something that isn’t done much in YA. Not that other authors are writing stupid characters, but Green allows his characters to wrestle with things by asking deep and intellectual questions—ones that I don’t see in other books. As Aza struggles with her OCD, she is struggling to understand who she is and if she can possibly be a person apart from the circumstances in her life. She’s constantly researching facts far beyond high school curriculum because she MUST know the answers. And yet, she is still a short sighted, self-centered teenager like the best of them. Somehow Green is able to create characters that are so intellectual without taking away from the fact that they are teenagers with a lot of life and learning ahead of them. Turtles All the Way Down is just another phenomenal example of this.
Aza explains her anxiety in the best way that she can, which is often jumbled and confusing, but captures the feeling so well. I found myself using some of her descriptions to explain to my boyfriend how it feels when I get anxious about something. Another theme throughout this book that I was actually pleasantly surprised to find was that of economical differences. Davis is obviously the son of a billionaire, but Aza and her best friend Daisy have several conversations about financial privilege and what “poor” looks like to them. I personally grew up in a lower economical status than many of my friends in high school, yet I never felt like we had to go without because of money. This theme throughout the book really resonated with me and I feel like Green raised a lot of interesting points by doing this.
Turtles All the Way Down is a book that our society needs. We need books that are open and honest about mental health, that helps people who don’t know understand, and that shows those who do that they are not alone. However, I love that, while Aza’s struggles were a huge part of the plot, it wasn’t the only thing going on in her life. She was also learning, as most teenagers do, about love, loss, how to be a good friend, and that the world is so much bigger than ourselves. She learns so much more in her own way, but I want you to learn along with her—pick up this book as soon as you can!