Genres: Contemporary, Mental Illness, Young Adult
Publication Date: October 10, 2017 by Dutton Books
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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.
“Madness, in my admittedly limited experience, is accompanied by no superpowers; being mental unwell doesn’t make you loftily intelligent any more than having the flu does.”
Turtles All the Way Down is John Green’s most recent release, and his best work. This book is quintessential John Green, the writing, the characters, the plot, it is so easy to tell who’s writing you’re reading. The novel follows Aza, a 16 year old girl who gets roped into helping her best friend find a fugitive billionaire and get a reward. Like Green’s past work, there’s the typical adventure and romance plot, but this story was more than that, the main focus was Aza and her OCD.
Aza’s OCD is center stage, and not a small part of the novel or something “quirky” about her. It’s a part of her life, and it’s heavily affecting it. I love how realistically Green portrayed Aza and her illness, especially when Aza was saying that having a mental illness doesn’t make you great. Because of her OCD Aza tends to have thought spirals that negatively affect her, she knows what she’s doing isn’t good, but she can’t stop. I appreciated reading how she battled with herself about what to do, what things meant. I love how realistic the OCD was portrayed, it wasn’t fun or glamorous, it was hard and kind of depressing, and unlike most stories about mental illness, the illness is not romanticized in any way.
“I disgusted myself. I was revolting, but I couldn’t recoil from my self because I was stuck inside of it.”
I’ve read the interviews and seen the videos, and know that the book was inspired by Green’s own mental illness. The book was amazing, there’s so much highlighting in my book because there was so much I related to, and so many quotes I thought were very important. Parts of this book that were hard to read, I hurt reading about Aza’s OCD and seeing how her thoughts spiraled and got worse.
While the book has some pretty heavy content, it’s also funny. I loved the humor in this book, it really helps balance the story. I like that, unlike Green’s other work, the romance was not the main focus of the story, there’s a romance, but it’s so small and not important to the whole novel.
“We are about to live the American Dream, which is, of course, to benefit from someone else’s misfortune.”
John Green did an amazing job with his most recent novel, and I highly recommend reading it. I can’t wait to reread it, I know I’ll definitely be highlighting more the second time around.