Thursday, December 8, 2011

Looking For Alaska by John Green

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Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Miles “Pudge” Halter follows the steps of all men in his family and decides to finish his high school career at Culver Creek Preparatory School, a boarding school near Birmingham, Alabama. He hopes that with this move he might find his “Great Perhaps”. Once there, he is quickly adopted by his roommate “The Colonel”, Fox, and the beautiful, intelligent and pretentious Alaska. Miles immediately falls for Alaska. Unfortunately she is already happily dating someone else. As Miles not so secretly pines for Alaska, the group shares pranks, secrets, hopes and dreams. Then something tragic changes everything and Miles and his friends must quickly grow up and learn to emotionally deal with what life has dealt them.

I read this book based on a recommendation by Heidi at YABibliophile. She is a self proclaimed John Green fan and insisted that the Bibliojunkies absolutely had to read his books. During the Thanksgiving weekend I decided to jump in and downloaded Looking for Alaska to my e-reader. I had no idea what to expect but I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

This was a pretty serious read with moments of hilarity and poignancy. It’s a very honest look at how high school kids think and behave. And most importantly, the story showed us the vulnerability that lies beneath every teenager’s invincibility. John Green does not hold back with his cast of characters. They love. They fight. They study. They swear. They drink. They smoke. Wait for it….they participate in sexual activity. But not once does he ever glorify or mock a single one of these actions. There are consequences for every action. Some positive and some negative. And some are more obvious than others.

This leads me to what made me fall in love with this book. I love books with messages. As long as I am not beaten over the head with them. Looking for Alaska contains a number of messages. All of them important but none of them heavy handed. And the best part is that every reader will walk away with a different message that they gleamed from this text. What did I take away from it?

1. We don’t have all the answers to the universe but that’s OK. Even without knowing, we can still live and be happy doing so.

2. Every one of our actions has consequences. We do not know who will be affected by our actions and we cannot always see what those consequences will be. And good or bad we must learn to live with what happens in life.

The best part is I will definitely be re-reading this in the next year and I am sure I will walk away with something completely different yet just as important.

After reading this I was shocked that this book has been banned. I know, I know. I should have known this already. Apparently the drinking, smoking, swearing and sex were just too much for some people take. It’s been a long time since I was a teenager but when I was in high school this was exactly what was going on in school. Maybe not every kid was experiencing it, but trust me, it was there. It was happening. And because it was…IS happening, is why amazing authors like John Green are writing about it. By writing about it they are giving teens a voice. They are opening the lines of communication between teens and adults so that there can be open, honest and frank discussion about what is going on in their lives.

I am not going to defend this book anymore than I already have. Not because it doesn’t deserve to be defended but because John Green has already done the work for me. As an end to this review, please watch the video below to hear his thoughts on the controversy behind Looking for Alaska.


  1. This novel looks really great.
    I have to get it. John's video was right on many things and some what he said was so true. Parents should stop putting on airs by trying to ban adolescent content out there.

    Brought up a lot of good points.
    ~Cassandra & Book & Movie Dimension a Blog

  2. Hi Cassandra - It was really an amazing recommendation. Can't wait to see what you think of it :-)