Despite his books constantly showing up on my radar, this is actually my first John Green book. I’d heard it raved about quite a lot on social media and was intrigued about giving it a go myself. It didn’t disappoint – charming and informative. Here’s my review on Turtles All The Way Down.
Publisher: Penguin | Date: 2017 | Genre: Young Adult
Plot: It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.
Turtles All The Way Down Review
Despite having The Fault in our Stars sitting on my bookshelf, I hadn’t previously read John Green. The hype surrounding this book initially caught my attention and then it was recommended by a friend. I trust recommendations far more than hype and I decided to give it a go.
There are occasions when you read a book and you feel so connected to the character, it’s like they are expressing everything going through your mind, everything you’ve been fighting to find the words for.
That is how I felt reading this.
Aza suffers from severe anxiety, to the point where she can’t sit and have her lunch without her mind going into overdrive. Yet it is this highly-anxious, unreliable mind that narrates the story, expressing the frustration that an issue such as anxiety can cause.
I do not have anxiety to this level, not even close. But for those who do, Aza presents it in a way that makes sense, a way that reveals how debilitating it is when you can’t even kiss the boy you fancy without your mind unhelpfully informing you that it will kill you.
You don’t get to be in anything else – in friendship or in anger or in hope. All you can be is in love.
The plot – finding a missing billionaire – takes a backseat as Aza develops in both herself and her relationships. She tackles her inner demons relentlessly while revealing there isn’t an off-switch and that there isn’t a way to suddenly be cured from everything that plagues you. At the same time, she comes to understand what this means to the people closest to her and how her behaviour affects those relationships, even when the people in question understand her better than she thinks.
Turtles All The Way Down oozes charm. There is a natural pace to the story; it cannot be fast because Aza’s mind gets too distracted by other details in order to always move forward. But it always feels realistic rather than a sudden detour that makes no sense and adds nothing to the story.
Despite her mind spending pages focusing on how she might die, Aza is a likeable character that I’m certain many people can relate to. She refuses to give up or give in and that awareness that something is going on that she can’t control reveals a lot about her inner strength; she will not let this defeat her. Aza isn’t the only character though; there are her friends, her mother and her new boyfriend. Despite rocky moments in each relationship, Aza is surrounded by people who care and understand her.
This was a moving read, if nothing else because of how I could relate to Aza. No one was put in a bad light; everyone had to work to help Aza get control of her anxiety. It opens up knowledge and questions about mental health without pushing and doesn’t make either a character or society the bad guy: it is an illness, not a choice, and isn’t made to be something it isn’t.
An emotive and satisfying read, suitable for more than just the intended YA reader. I’m glad to have had the chance to review one of his books, and Turtles All The Way Down was a good choice.
Are you a John Green fan? Which of his books would you recommend?
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