Turtles All the Way Down Book Review
By Alexis Mercer
Best-selling author John Green hits another one out of the park with his book Turtles All the Way Down. Known for titles such as The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and my personal favorite, Paper Towns, Green has become a household name. Three of his books have been turned into major motion pictures.
Green describes adolescence in a way that is relatable to all ages. And while his books may be classified as “Young Adult”, I don’t know a single adult who has read his books who think they are adolescent in content, verbage or character.
In Turtles All the Way Down, Green tackles anxiety in a coming of age female.
The book opens with Ava, a sixteen-year-old suffering from crippling, spiraling anxiety. She and her best friend Daisy get themselves involved in a missing persons hunt. Ava went to camp with a boy when she was younger, who happens to be the son of the billionaire Russell Pickett, who has disappeared. Originally Daisy and Ava are interested in the hundred thousand dollar reward for information leading to his whereabouts. But then Davis, Russell’s son, becomes a part of the investigation in a way that Ava couldn’t have predicted.
The reader becomes deeply entwined in Ava’s spiraling thoughts and anxiety while she is trying to be a daughter, friend, girlfriend, student and teenager.
I was unsure about reading this book for a few reasons. I loved Paper Towns so much that I didn’t want to ruin my thoughts of perfection of Green as an author. And mostly, I had heard it was written about a main character who suffered from anxiety. It is a topic that hits close to home and I wasn’t sure if it would be too heavy.
My own story involves a battle with anxiety. I have come to realize that it originally began as postpartum anxiety, though of course at the time, I wasn’t aware of it, nor did I even know that was “a thing.” While a few brief periods of my own experience have been crippling, the majority of my anxiety has been controllable. But that doesn’t lessen my empathy and compassion for anyone who ever experiences any level of anxiety.
Knowing first hand what anxiety looks like gave me a true appreciation for the mastery with which Green tells his tale. He did justice to the issue while also telling a story that was entertaining, amusing, enjoyable and credible.
I, a singular proper noun, would go on, if always in a conditional tense.
In researching John Green further after having read this book, I came to find out that in addition to his gift with words, he has also suffered from anxiety in his own life. Which explains why the words on the page come alive in a way that I don’t feel could be explained by someone who has never experienced it for themselves.
Time Magazine published an interview they did with Green on the novel and mental illness. I found it fascinating. You can read it here - http://time.com/4976944/john-green-turtles-all-the-way-down-mental-illness/
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Whether you have experienced anxiety, know someone who has, or just want to read a quality story with realistic characters, this book will not disappoint. At a time when so many young people are experiencing varying degrees of anxiety over the events around them they can’t control, this book is a timely read for all ages.
John Green took 5 years to come out with a new book after his 2012 hit The Fault in Our Stars. If he takes another 5 years before his next book, I will count the days knowing that the time will be worth it.
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