The amazing ladies in my book club selected John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down for our meeting last month. I give it five stars for the writing (I don’t think John Green is capable of not writing well), and another five stars for character development.
This book blends two main plots: One external, where Aza and her friend Daisy play detective to find a missing person, and one internal, which focuses on Aza’s debilitating mental illness; and a number of subplots: Aza’s romance with Davis, Aza’s relationship with Daisy, etc.
It sounds like a lot of plot, but the blended outcome is perfect. The shifting internal/external focus add depth to the characters and intrigue to the missing person mystery.
I read this novel soon after I read Everything, Everything, and I initially had a hard time feeling compassion for Aza, who has a bleak outlook on life, when the main character in Everything, Everything is so optimistic even though her illness keeps her confined to her sterile home.
But then I started to understand why Aza feels and acts as she does. It isn’t her choice to worry incessantly or to scratch her finger compulsively. This book led to a thoughtful discussion during my book club meeting about mental illness. Turtles highlights the never-ending battle between a person trying to control their illness and the illness controlling them.
This wasn’t the easiest book to read because Aza’s struggle is intensely painful to witness, but it is such an important book to read. Because mental illness is so pervasive. Because everyone should understand—truly understand—what’s going on in the minds of those who suffer.
Top 5 Reasons Why I Loved Turtles All the Way Down:
- It’s not a quick read, because this book made me think. This book gets quite philosophical at times, and I spent almost as much time reflecting as reading.
- The best line in the book: “I is the hardest word to define.”
- The missing person mystery. It’s more subdued than a James Patterson thriller, but it keeps the story moving.
- The sweet friendship between Aza and Daisy.
- Yay for limited stereotypes! The teens in this novel are smart and mostly ambitious.
Be sure to check out my post about the delicious chocolate book bites I made for my book club meeting when we discussed Turtles All the Way Down!
Have you read Turtles All the Way Down? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! Use the comment section below to share.
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