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. -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts: Looking For Alaska is John Green’s first novel, and an amazing debut is was. It afforded Mr. Green the 2006 Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature, thus making it a perfect choice for the Award Winning Reads Challenge.
Let me just start by saying that John Green is my favorite young adult writer. He has not written as many books as some of the others, but a couple of the ones he has written are so powerful they leave me speechless months after I have finished them. Mr. Green writes to every young person, not just the pretty ones or the popular ones, and I think his books are so amazing because of that.
About halfway through the book, something happens. So the first half of the book is the ‘before‘ and the second half of the book is the ‘after.’ Within the first three pages, I was emotionally attached to Miles, and the attachment grew from there. I felt connected to Miles’ friends, and I wanted his crush to like him back. I was really rooting for him.
When the big thing happened, it really changed the dynamic of the book in an interesting way. In the span of a page or two, Miles changed as a person/character. As a reader, we saw his life, his priorities, and his dreams just completely rearrange. I have often heard people in real life say that one’s character is determined by his or her response to life’s situations, and Miles was a perfect demonstration of this. The rest of the book was spent building on his character. I do not think he is fully evolved as a person by the end of the book, because he is such a young guy and the big event is still so recent at that point, but the evolution is so evident.
Not only did Miles evolve as a person, but he had a lot to deal with. There is not a lot that I can reveal about this without spoiling the plot, so I apologize profusely for being so vague. Let me rephrase by saying that Mr. Green is famous (at least to me) for taking young people, who are already going through a lot just by being young and growing up, but adding hard/different/stressful/strange life circumstances to their lives….and then writing about how they deal with it.
I want to stand in front of the book-blog-reading world at a podium with a microphone and say loudly to the audience about Looking For Alaska: THIS BOOK REPRESENTS HOW LIFE IS. Life sometimes happens this way. We live, we go to school or work, we make friends, we get boyfriends or girlfriends or husbands or wives, we get attached to people…and things just happen sometimes. Sometimes life is great and sometimes life stinks. Sometimes life is great and something completely out-of-left-field comes up and rocks our world. It is then, at those moments, that our true character comes out and we are forced to grow up and make decisions and in some cases, move on.
I want people to read this book and be as affected by it as I am. (Then I want them to go read John Green’s Paper Towns and be affected by that one too, because it is just as good and profound.) Then I want them to tell other people about it so more people will read it. I love it that much.
When I read John Green’s books, I am reading from a different perspective than his intended audience, and I fully understand that. But I think that is really cool. I am not a young-young adult anymore. I have a bit of life experience behind me. THAT is why I can say confidently that this book represents how life is sometimes and that it should be read. There are some emotional moments in it, but there are some really happy and funny ones too.
At this point, I just feel like I am rambling and not doing this book any justice at all. It is way way at the top of my all-time favorites list, as is the author. I recommend it to everyone, young and not-so-young. There are a few things in the book that may not be totally suitable for very young readers, so for the younger audiences parents should use some discretion.