Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Although I haven’t been a huge fan of John Green’s books in the past, I really connected with Turtles All the Way Down. Aza struggles with debilitating anxiety. She falls into these catastrophizing spirals, overcome by the fear of infections and germs. Green writes Aza’s anxiety in a way that is so consuming and emotional. I found myself crying more than once in this book as Aza struggles to understand herself and to connect with others. She works to gain an understanding of her self and her self in relation to others, Aza struggles to get through school, to connect with her friends, and to give dating a try. She’s looking towards her future, but it’s difficult for her to imagine how she’ll get there, where she’ll end up, and how she’ll survive. Past the anxiety, there is the mystery of Davis Pickett’s missing father. Aza’s search for her self is paralleled by her physical search for Davis’ father.
This portrayal of mental illness is raw and honest. It’s a struggle to read because of the thick emotion and the feeling of being trapped that Aza experiences. It is often overwhelming in it’s realness because it can bring up a lot of feelings in the reader. I could feel the anxiety well up in me as I read through. Aza faces a lot of OCD and obsessive thoughts. She feels a lot of pain and hatred towards herself for being unable to stop her compulsions. I feel like a lot of readers out there will really relate to Aza. Her story is one of struggle, but there is also hope and triumph. She is able to find contentment and strength in this story. She is able to see light at the end of the tunnel. As much as this story is heartbreaking, it’s also inspiring.
My biggest complaint is the awful cover of this book. It’s a terribly hideous cover and is definitely not one that I would pick up. A friend of mine recommended this book and gave me her copy to read, along with the highest praise. I would not have picked it up in the store. Despite the ugly jacket, this book stands out as an incredible and moving read with a protagonist who is flawed and struggles–she is so very human. I’m very glad to have enjoyed a John Green book.