Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Book:  Looking for Alaska
Author:  John Green
Date:  2005
Publisher:  Puffin
Source:  Checked out from my school’s library
My grade:  This book is beyond a grade.  It is enlightenment.

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.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.


Initial reaction

Secondary reaction
My God…..I had no idea that a YA novel could be this…..profound.

Tertiary reaction

Title and Cover
Both were perfect.  Somewhat mysterious and they piqued my curiosity.

The Plot
Honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot to the plot of this novel.  Miles is a poorly adjusted, geeky high school kid who decides to go away to boarding school.  When he arrives, he makes a mixed bag of friends, all of whom are misfits in their own way.  They do silly things, they do bad things, they word hard at school, they share secrets.  It’s exactly like what you would expect to happen with a group of high school juniors.  Some drinking, smoking cigarettes and sex are all there, although they are dealt with in a very realistic manner, including a lot of awkwardness and lots of puking. : )

Then, THE EVENT happens.  It changes everything.  The book is split into 2 parts:  Before and After.  The after part of the novel deals with the fallout from the event and how this group of teens will grow and change forever as a result of it.  It is about their own enlightenment and their first foray into the world of adult mistakes, regrets and forgiveness.  And it is beautifully written and oh, so bittersweet.

The characters
This novel is so, so, so character driven!  There is not much to the plot outside of the Event, but the characters are so vivid and real.  I feel like I knew them personally, because in many ways, they were like real kids that I did know in high school and the kids that I still see in my classes every day.  They were not perfect, but they were perfectly flawed, just as we all are.  It was incredible to experience this journey of growth and discovery with these kids.  Seeing them learn to deal with their choices and the consequences of them was both heartbreaking and inspiring.

The Final Grade
This is one of those books that is beyond a grade.  It is one of those books that finds the truth of a human experience and opens it up so that we can all see a little bit of the inside of it.  Honestly, I don’t understand why we are not teaching books like this one to high school students.  If school is about being relevant, then a book like this one has a lot to say to our students.  The discussion that would happen around this book could fill days worth of classes.  How do we deal with the consequences of the smallest choices we make in life?  This is a novel that provides rich food for thought.  I would recommend it for adults and teens alike.  I had only read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green before this novel, but now I will grab up every one of his novels to read!

1 comment:

  1. Eeee I loved this book! I totally agree that schools need to revamp their reading selections to the more modern character studies that are available today.

    I accidentally read a spoiler about The Event before I read the book. And even though I knew (and dreaded) what was coming, I was still totally stuck to the book. Could not put it down.

    I also love that you used the word 'tertiary' in your review!