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.
“Actually, the problem is that I can’t lose my mind,” I said. “It’s inescapable.”
I have been a nerdfighter for quite some years now, and I enjoy Hank and John’s videos and podcasts. I was a bit weary about purchasing and reading the book because unfortunately John’s books tend to have the same outline of a story.
The first John Green book I ever read was Looking For Alaska and I thought it was such an amazing book. Then I read The Fault in Our Stars…and it felt the same as Looking For Alaska. The I read Paper Towns and it still had the sameness as the other two and I couldn’t even make it past the first chapter of An Abundance of Katherines.
Turtles is different. It breaks away from John’s usual two teens falling in love but nothing is really better routine. It is more than that and it is exceptional.
This book breathed John Green, the goofy guy on the internet that is semi-open about his mental illness and makes videos with his brother.
Turtles All The Way Down is not a love story. It’s not a mystery novel. It’s not a self discovery book. It’s a story of accepting ourselves because we are not alone even when we are trapped in our heads.
It is an ode to those with mental illnesses who are screaming inside themselves trying to be heard. Telling them that it is okay to feel that way and that you are not crazy.
Personally, I am privilege to be healthy with no physical or mental illness. I do suffer with anxiety sometimes, especially in situations that include too many people or too many things happening at once. Even with that I do not think I suffer from anxiety but from I am not a people person. So, I do not and will never truly understand what people with mental illness feel.
What I do know is that it is different for everyone, because brains are funny that way. I think we all need to understand every individual handles illnesses differently.
In Turtles All The Way Down we follow the story of Aza, a sixteen-year-old girl who suffers with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and it pretty much controls and defines who she is and how she lives her life. Her OCD is a lot like John’s ( I know this cause he has been open about it on Dear Hank and John Podcast ), where once there is a thought in her head it consumes her like a tightening downward spiral.
Throughout the story we watch as Aza deals with regular teenage things such as school, teenage love, family and friendship but with her trying to “get better” from her OCD. ( Get better is in quotations because it is not really true, but I explain it further I might ruin a key element of the book).
“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”
John is a fantastic writer, he knows how to write and how to give emotion to a story. It is has been his forte ever since Looking For Alaska. There is no denying that he has become a stronger writer and his books will stay relevant in the literature world for many years to come.
He knows how to tell a story even if the idea can be repetitive and the same.
“One of the challenges with pain–physical or psychic–is that we can really only approach it through metaphor. It can’t be represented the way table or a body can. In some ways, pain is the opposite of language.”
What made this story realistic is that Aza was not magically fixed by a boy, or a friend or by herself. She continued on living with her OCD, aware of what it can do, but also aware that she will have her good days and her bad days. All she could do is keep going because it was not something that ever goes away and she understood that at the end.
I do feel that the ending of the story felt quite abrupt, and frankly I was caught off guard at the sudden ending even though it felt right. It was honesty quite odd.
“The problem with happy endings is that they’re either not really happy, or not really endings, you know? In real life, some things get better and some things get worse. And then eventually you die.”
“You’re both the fire and the water that extinguishes it. You’re the narrator, the protagonist, and the sidekick. You’re the storyteller and the story told. You are somebody’s something, but you are also your you.”