Turtles All the Way Down Review
After John Green's success with The Fault in our Stars, I was pining for his next novel. I just didn't think I would have to wait five years for one. With Green's usual choice of a teen aged main character, the subject matter was drastically different from any of his previous novels, but a subject I believe teens and young adults need exposure to.
Turtles All the Way Down centers itself around 16 year old Aza, who finds herself playing detective after a local billionaire is reported missing. While searching for answers on his whereabouts, Aza is also searching for an end to her crippling anxiety. Read a full summary here.
I won't lead you astray, but the main plot of this novel is Aza's internal battle. Yes, there's a missing billionaire and romance and the woes of being a teenager, but Aza's mental health journey is the focal point. Green was able to describe the reality of anxiety and depression in their varying forms: self-doubt, fear, obsession, and hopelessness. It's at times painful and sad to read, leaving you uncomfortable with her struggle.
To go further, I felt that it was an exploration of self, a topic most teens can relate to. Outside of Aza feeling she has no identity other than her mental illness, it's how your self is defined by your friends, your parents, and your love interest; how sometimes you’re unsure of what you want for your future self. (Newsflash, there are other options outside of college, and you don't have to decide immediately!)
If you're looking for a lighthearted Young Adult novel, you'll be disappointed with this one. The typical YA story line takes a backseat. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it was refreshing to feel represented in a novel. I had never read something that related to my illness until Green described a thought spiral. As an adult, I love that teens have the opportunity to read more diverse content and possibly relate to an imperfect character. Hopefully we'll see more diversity in subject matter in the future.
Overall, I enjoyed the book once I accepted it for what it was. It's a story of how mental health affects your everyday life; it's frustrating, sad, painful, but not hopeless.
Since it's almost Christmas time, I had to play book fairy again! I left the copy under the city tree in Fort Worth and I hope its next reader enjoys!