I’ve always thought of myself as a John Green fan. I’ve read almost all of his books, and I’ve loved each one that I’ve read. However, there’s a Nerdfighter in my house that far surpasses me in Green fandom. I didn’t know what that was until my youngest child Dannie introduced me to the world of John and his brother Hank. I’ve watched a few Vlogbrothers videos, but that was the extent of it. Dannie, on the other hand, is well versed in all things John and Hank — from details about their lives that aren’t in book jackets to the music Hank performs.
So there was no hesitation on my part when Dannie told me that the book tour for “Turtles All the Way Down” would be stopping nearby in Orlando and asked if I wanted to go. We were both very excited, and it was a highly anticipated day for us. The tour was going to be at Winter Park High School. Of course, Dannie knew that the Greens grew up in the Winter Park area and that the school is Hank’s high school alma mater.
The evening began with funny clips from Vlogbrothers, of John talking about different things like wanting to be in Hank’s band, “The Fault in our Stars,” and about “Turtles All the Way Down.” When he finally appeared onstage, there really was excitement in the air. He read an excerpt from the book and talked about his character’s issues with OCD/mental illness and openly shared about his own experiences with OCD.
After reading part of “Turtles All the Way Down,” a surprise guest named “Dr. Turtleman” (Hank in a silly turtle costume) came out and shared some interesting information about Tuataras (they’re an animal species important to the book). Later on, Hank came back out as himself and performed a mini concert which Dannie and the crowd went crazy over. Since I had just heard his music for the first time on our drive to Winter Park (about an hour and a half from home), I recognized some of the songs which helped me also enjoy the concert.
The highlight for me was when both brothers were onstage and aired their podcast. It was a lot of fun watching them interact. I especially enjoyed when they answered people’s questions. I thought it was funny when John handed Hank a question and said, “This one’s for you.” Then Hank looked at the question on the card and said, “Actually, I think it’s for you John.” The question was, “Is it hard for you to have a brother that’s so successful?” They each shared how much they admire each other. They both shared that they couldn’t do what the other one does. I believe that they really do have a mutual love and respect for one another.
At the end of the evening, John thanked many people. This was especially touching because John and Hank had previous teachers and friends in the audience that they had grown up with. John thanked their teachers for their patience, especially with him, and for the influence they each had on their lives. Hank talked about how amazing it was to be at his old high school and thanked the high school students who had volunteered all day (it was a teacher work day so there was no school that day, yet many of the students still came to school to volunteer their services.) It was especially gratifying to see these men so humbled by those that had played a part in shaping them as they grew up in Winter Park.
I can honestly say that everything about the evening was great, but like the old MasterCard commercials used to say, spending time with Dannie was priceless.
Stay tuned for our “Turtles All the Way Down” review!
Oh! And as a bonus, I also shared the experience in a way with my sister Sandie, who had been to the Washington D.C. stop just a few days earlier! She was able to attend as press courtesy of Penguin and even met John backstage before the event. Here’s a photo of her and John: