Review: Turtles All the Way Down

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“I realized in the silence that followed that I hadn’t spoken since answering Davis’s compliment about my shirt. Davis, Daisy, and Mychal eventually went back to talking about Star Wars and the size of the universe and traveling faster than light. ‘Star Wars is the American religion,’ Davis said at one point, and Mychal said, ‘I think religion is the American religion,’ and even though I laughed with them, it felt like I was watching the whole thing from somewhere else, like I was watching a movie about my life instead of living it.”

S U M M A R Y

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green is a novel that on the surface is about a girl named Aza who, with her friend Daisy, is searching for clues on the disappearance of Indianapolis billionaire Russel Pickett to claim the $100,000 reward. In actuality, this story is a character dive into an OCD sixteen-year-old and the intricacies of her relationships.

R E V I E W

★★★★☆

I was pretty conflicted about what to rate this book. To be fair, I’m not the target audience and I’m not a huge fan of books set in high school. However, I read many reviews that rated this book poorly due to the fantastical and unrealistic plot elements and in my opinion, Green set the story up like this on purpose. Aza’s mental disability causes her to experience life in third person. She seems to stumble through life and these spectacular events she experiences contrast against her preoccupied and uninterested behavior. That’s why this book isn’t really about the missing person investigation. It’s about living with OCD while trying to maintain relationships and handle the stress of daily life.

This is why I enjoyed Turtles. Aza felt so real and her anxieties hit way too close to home sometimes. The book normalizes therapy and emphasizes the importance of friendships over romantic relationships. It’s a character-driven story that I would definitely encourage young people to pick up. Just stay away from An Abundance of Katherines

The one major thing that irked me, though, was Green’s disdain for Indianapolis. Yeah, Indiana isn’t great, but Indy is this little liberal oasis in a sea of red. I can understand a teenager feeling disdain for anywhere they grow up, I just like my city and John Green got it all wrong, dang it! (Also it’s the Indy Star, not The Indianapolis Star; plus other details that probably make sense for readers from other places but annoy me).

All in all, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. Good job, Green. I may even pick up your next one whenever that happens.

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