Turtles All the Way Down

An article written by Ilinca and edited by Daniel

About the book:

  • Author – John Green
  • Genre – Young adult
  • Book Type – Fiction

Despite my preconceived impression that this would be nothing more than a generic mystery novel, my expectations were quickly subverted. In fact, this has easily claimed the role as my personal favourite book.

‘Turtles All the Way Down’ recounts the story of Aza Holmes, a teenager with OCD, who gets involved in the mystery of the missing millionaire – the father of her forgotten childhood friend, Davis.

But really, even as exciting as the storyline turns out to be, what strikes me about this book is that in only 400 pages, I, as a reader felt as if I’d been allowed to peek into someone’s inner world. The way in which every one of Aza’s unfiltered thoughts was displayed on paper allowed me to understand and, to some extent, even experience overwhelming emotions that I wasn’t familiar with. The character’s mental illness makes it hard to validate her spiralling thoughts, yet that still didn’t present a barrier as I ended up relating her eerie perception of life and caring deeply about her story.

John Green effectively grapples with the theme of friendship and conflicting relationships in teenagers’ lives. He realises complex characters in a lifelike manner by highlighting how they are lost in their interactions just as much as the reader. He portrays the challenges they face as they attempt to understand the meaning of their own life and the philosophy behind it, closely linked to the paradox of turtles, and how this ends up complicating their living.

Out of all the interesting ideas brought forward in this book, in the context of deep conversations under the stars or sleepless nights of contemplating, there is one that stuck with me to the end: ‘We never really talked much or even looked at each other, but it didn’t matter because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe even more intimate than eye contact anyway. I mean, anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see’. I felt like it expressed the exact type of special bond that can be created between two people, a connection that cannot be labelled as love or friendship or by any other single word out of the dictionary and just like this, it opened my mind to understanding more of the world and less of it at the same time.

Though I don’t find that the author intended for the ending of the book to be sad, I ended up having to hold back tears as a character’s journey, one I had been so incredibly dedicated to, is brought to a striking conclusion. However, you will have to experience, ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ for yourself to truly understand what I mean.


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