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Book review: Turtles All the Way Down

Book review: Turtles All the Way Down

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By Sara McDonald

“The Fault in Our Stars” made John Green one of the most successful young-adult authors in the world. In the novel, he tackled themes like mental illness, the power of friendship and love.

Now his new novel, “Turtles All The Way Down” is likely to do the same.

This is a story of mystery and self-realization. It is a sentimental story and sometimes even borderline cheesy, but most of all it is raw and eternally endearing.

The soul of this story is Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old girl battling obsessive-compulsive disorder and an anxiety disorder. Green uses her character to shed light on his own disorders.

It’s not her repetitive behavior that torments young Aza as much as her repetitive thoughts, which makes her a repetitive narrator.

She will actually plea with some of these repetitive and tormenting thoughts to “please let me go” claiming she will “stand down.”

She ultimately is a prisoner to her own mind, suffering from these mental illnesses, the same ones that Green has dealt with his life.

Aza has an overbearing, outgoing and annoying best friend named Daisy, who ropes Aza into little misadventures. They ultimately make an insecure and rather geeky pair, but their general affection for one another is one of the most endearing components of a truly gritty story.

They are each other’s “favorite person” and they wish to be buried next to each other and share a tombstone.

They couldn’t be more opposite, but they embrace their many differences and prove that a meaningful friendship is worth fighting for.

At first, you believe that this story centers on a missing billionaire and the girls are trying to find him so they can claim the hefty reward money.

In the process, Aza meets the billionaire’s son, Davis, who is dealing with the darkness of his own mind in the wake of his mother’s death nine years ago and his father’s disappearance.

She starts falling for him. They bond over their shared identity struggles and the fact that neither of their minds are fun places to inhabit.

“Turtles All The Way Down” is a poignant coming of age story about falling in love with yourself while embracing those who have seen the darkest parts of your mind. It’s also about trusting them to still see the light.

John Green has done it again.


Pictured Above: “Turtles All The Way Down” tackles heavy themes such as friendship, love and mental illness. The book’s protagonist, 16 year old Aza Homes, struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. Courtesy of John Green 

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