Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on October 10, 2017
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
Turtles All the Way Down is yet another powerful read by John Green that does not sugar coat the path life hands us
John Green writes young adult fiction like few other writers can. His characters are witty, intelligent yet quirky and still very much teenagers dealing with everything that life throws at them.
Turtles All the Way Down is very much the same and yet, very very different. Green has, in the past, skirted delicately around the subject of teens and mental illness. He has spoken publicly and often painfully about his own struggles with OCD and his mental health. Through Aza, the heroin in Turtles, Green doesn’t skirt the subject of mental illness – he dives in headfirst.
Aza suffers from crippling anxiety and OCD. Her best friend Daisy is her polar opposite and they are on a mission to find a missing billionaire and earn a hundred thousand dollar reward. Add in a lizard, quotes from famous authors, Star Wars fanfiction and star gazing and Turtles All the Way Down stays true to what we’ve come to expect from John Green. The prose is witty and well –turned and the characters are well developed and palpable in their keen ability to feel so acutely what it is to be who they are at the age they are. But this too, is where this book becomes tricky.
Aza’s mental illness is tangible. We’re in her thoughts and along for the ride as she is held captive by thought spirals. We feel every bit of tension, loss of control and the mounting anxiety of wanting so badly to think about something else, but being utterly incapable of doing so. This is one case where I think one must be careful about who reads this book. As someone with anxiety myself, I can tell you that being in Aza’s head was difficult and at times I had to put the book down to take a break. That is how real Green makes Aza’s struggle feel.
Turtles All the Way Down is an important read and it should be put it in the hands of teens/young adults who have a sounding board to explore all the questions the book may bring about or for support if Aza’s struggle at all mirrors their own. I see huge potential here to make people more aware of the need to take teen/young adult mental health seriously. Perhaps this book will help our young people pave the way for general acceptance that mental health is just as important as physical health and will help us, as a society, overcome the stigmas still attached to issues of mental health.
Turtles All the Way Down is yet another powerful read by John Green that does not sugar coat the path life hands us, but rather shows us how to find hope, support, friendship and love in what can be our most trying times.