I've read every John Green book, and although I sound like a broken record, "The Fault in Our Stars" is beautiful and moving and I acknowledge that. However, I never connected with his other stories until his latest release of "Turtles All the Way Down." "Looking for Alaska" felt too dark and creepy; something about a guy pining after an elusive girl all semester didn't do it for me. It all felt too much like a tumblr blog about smoking cigarettes just for the aesthetic. In other words, they didn't have much substance in my opinion.
"Turtles All the Way Down" struck a chord with me. Its depiction of mental health, specifically obsessive compulsive disorder, is based off of Green's personal experience with the mental health disorder. Green highlights not only the irrational thoughts that infiltrate protagonist Aza Homes's mind, but the complications that her mental health creates with her personal life. Without giving too much of this story away because I believe it is an essential read for young adults, Aza's struggle to hold onto relationships and to even explain her plight to those around her are not uncommon experiences. Green brings ordinary events and ordinary people together to somehow pull off the extraordinary: a moving tale about love, loss, and how we relate to the people around us.
Personally, this novel meant a whole lot more than mental illness representation; my own struggle with anxiety has been full of doubt and criticism, both from myself and loved ones. Mental health is still not accepted as legitimate in many cultures and too many things can influence our society's idea of what it means to have chemical imbalances and what it means to be sad or scared occasionally. Everyone feels scared sometimes, but normalizing these disorders is one step in the direction of accepting a marginalized group back into society.