Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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.

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.

The love I have for Turtles All the Way Down isn’t the same as the love I have for John Green’s other works. Maybe because I’m older and the teen angst and romance don’t strike me like they used to. 

Still, Green has an amazing skill in creating inner dialogue that feels so real. I still relate to Aza despite not being a teenager with all the true and made-up problems my mind can come up with – and I think that that’s the beauty of Green’s writing. No matter who you are, there is substance to his characters and, since we are all people with substance, it doesn’t matter if they’re exactly like us. What matters is that they feel more real than most of the fiction characters we read.

The winding and weird plot is definitely enjoyable but I’m very biased in my belief that Green could make a book about grocery shopping both deep and funny. There’s always an underlying lesson to his work which I think is lost on a lot of modern fiction. He’s not just telling a story; he’s conveying honest feelings and ideas about how we learn to deal with those feelings.

Green uses the same poeticism in Turtles All the Way Down that’s in all his other works. Just how I used to transcribe pages of notebooks with my favorite quotes, I found myself doing so again reading this. “Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.” I don’t think that I’ve ever read a more accurate representation of how it feels to fall in love while grappling with mental illness.

Would always recommend it.

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