Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Release Date: October 10th, 2017
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.
I knew this was going to be an amazing book pretty much right off the bat. Not only because John Green is an amazing author. Not even because I had only heard great stuff about the book. Nope. While both those things are absolutely true, I knew this was going to be an amazing book when I stopped reading to take pictures of lines that I thought were important. I'll annotate the hell out of a text book, but not my novels. I don't want my thoughts to cloud the next persons experience, so instead I snap pictures that I can refer back to. I'd barely read anything at all before I had to stop and document what I was reading. I think I even went so far as to tweet out that first picture, it struck me that hard.
So what was is about this book that clamped down so hard on me? For those of you have been here before it's no secret that I have long lived with both anxiety and depression. For the most part I'm good and life goes on, but there are other days where just getting through the day is a struggle. In other words Aza is me and I am Aza. While it manifests for Aza throughout the story in ways that are sometimes foreign to me, the experience is none the less the same. I could try to explain what living with anxiety feels like, but Green so perfectly encapsulates it in the book, so instead I'll just share the 4 most pertinent pictures I took of the book and meet you on the other side.
"The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely."
"I knew how disgusting I was. I knew. I knew now for sure. I wasn't possessed by a demon. I was the demon."
"It's so weird, to know you're crazy and not be able to do anything about it, you know? It's not like you believe yourself to be normal. You know there is a problem. But you can't figure a way through fixing it."
"Anyone can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see."
Beyond Aza and her living with a mental illness, the rest of the story is also really well done. I don't want to give anything away, but there's a mystery involving the missing father of a childhood friend, there's romance and friendship and Star Wars Fan Fic. In other words there's a little something for everyone! Aza navigates her life the best she can and her friends and family are with her the whole way, even when they struggle to live beside her illness. Green doesn't shy away from the hardships that come with this kind of illness, but he also remembers that when you have anxiety (or another illness), it's not all you are. It's a part of your life and it impacts how you live, but it's not all there is, and Aza gets to have a wealth of experiences throughout the book that we get to follow her on.
I enjoyed this book from start to finish and I can't wait to get a copy in the library because I think it's one that all my students should read!