John Green Strikes Again: How His New Novel Hits You In The Feels

John Green Strikes Again: How His New Novel Hits You In The Feels

A "Turtles All the Way Down" book review by a college student who experiences at least five existential crises a day!
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The day after I finished my last exam and came home for three weeks, I picked up "Turtles All the Way Down" by John Green. Needless to say, my expectations were extremely high. It's been around five years since "The Fault in Our Stars, which was an extremely popular YA novel that spread like wildfire through the social ladder and the NYT Bestseller lists. When I found out about "Turtles All the Way Down," I wanted to read up on it as much as I could because I was so unbelievably excited. But then I thought, why not go in blind? Why not just go in with minimal expectations? So, that's what I did. And I am so glad I decided to.

Let me first tell you: John Green did not disappoint.

The story is told in first-person by 16-year-old Aza Holmes, also referred to as Holmsey by her best friend Daisy. They don't live in the best part of Indianapolis, but Aza's old friend Davis Pickett does. Even though she hasn't talked to him in years, Aza and Daisy decide to sneak over there one day. Of course, this is after they discover that Davis's billionaire dad, Russell Pickett is a missing fugitive with a cloud made of $100,000 in reward money hanging over him.

I assure you that even though that paragraph sounds quite cheesy, the book is far from that. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's vegan.

Although I did thoroughly enjoy the plot line, I enjoyed Aza's character much more. From my previous description, you probably figured Aza is a perfectly normal and typical 16-year-old (besides the fact that she's hunting down a fugitive who also happens to be her friend's father). However, Aza struggles daily to function with OCD and anxiety. Her thoughts are plagued by fears of bacteria and deep questionings on what her life "really" is.

In the YA literature world, mental illnesses are a hot topic. From what I have personally read, I never thought it was captured well and I figured that it never would be. But I'm pretty sure John Green heard my thoughts because he came sliding in and proved me real hecking wrong.

I have never, and I mean never, read a book that captured the day to day struggles of a mental illness so well. I honestly don't want to even describe how John did it because I know if I try, I'll probably ruin it. But what I "can do is give you some amazing quotes from the book in hopes of showing its pure beauty.

Some heckin' good quotes about mental illness from "Turtles All the Way Down:"

"...but I can no more choose my thoughts than choose my name."

"...like invasive weeds, these thoughts seem to arrive at my biosphere from some faraway land, and then they spread out of control."

"I wanted to tell her that I was getting better, because that was supposed to be the narrative of illness: It was a hurdle you jumped over, or a battle you won. Illness is a story told in the past tense."

"I feel like I might not be driving the bus of my consciousness..."

"I think, 'you will never be free from this.' I think, 'you don't pick your thoughts.' I think, 'You are dying, and there are bugs inside of you that will eat through your skin.' I think and I think and I think."

"...and even though I laughed with them, it felt like I was watching the whole thing from somewhere else, like I was watching a movie about my life instead of living it."

And guys, these are only a few. A FEW!!!!!!! AND these are only the quotes about mental illness.

I deadass read this book in five hours; I literally could not put it down. Granted, the plot is borderline cheesy and slightly unrealistic. BUUUUUTTTT 1. it's a YA lit book, so what else would be expected? and 2. it's not really about the literal plot line; the meaning of the book lies in between the lines.

So with your Christmas (if ya celebrate) money/gift cards, go out and get yourself this amazing novel. It's gonna make you have an existential crisis, but what better time to have that than right before 2018 approaches?!

In all seriousness, this book is phenomenal. I truly believe that everyone should read this because there is something everyone can gain from it, no matter who you are. John Green hits you in the feels, and there is no escaping it.

OVERALL: 5 stars.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Shows Shouldn't Have To Rely On Sexist Or Racist Jokes To Be 'Funny'

Punchlines that come at the expense of female, plus-sized, LGBTQ, or other marginalized characters are too common
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Recently I’ve been trying to be a more conscious consumer. I bring old plastic bags with me to dining halls, religiously carry a reusable water bottle, avoid online shopping whenever possible, and buy clothing second hand. But while I try to have my environmental bases covered, I often forget to cover my moral bases.

After reading a New Yorker article by Molly Ringwald, I started to think about my role as a consumer of art and pop culture. Molly Ringwald, an actress known for her roles in John Hughes movies such as “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” and “Sixteen Candles,” examines in her article the problematic aspects of the movies she starred in and whether those iconic films are or should still be relevant today.

While the #metoo movement has already brought some of these issues to the public eye, there is still much more to unpack. As allegations rolled out against men in Hollywood for their actions, the already present calls to boycott the films and projects of perpetrators such as Woody Allen or Kevin Spacey, have grown stronger. While many have their own opinions on whether this type of action is necessary or effective, I certainly see the merit in not contributing further to the fame and wealth of the people who committed these ugly acts.

However, the line gets fuzzier when the films, series, books, etc. are not produced by people who have done something explicitly wrong, but still perpetuate that same culture of misogyny and sexual exploitation. Prompted in part by the article, I thought back on some of the pop culture I personally have grown up on, and was disappointed, though not surprised, to realize how wrong some of the movies and shows I loved are.

A classic example is “How I Met Your Mother,” a T.V. show I have seen at least twice through (with that being a conservative estimate). And while I obviously never approved of the sexist and even openly rape-y character of Barney, a serial womanizer, it didn’t really occur to me to turn off the show and choose something else. Those same problematic punchlines that come at the expense of female, plus-sized, LGBTQ, or other marginalized characters are repeated over and over in almost any sitcom I’ve ever seen, from “Friends” to “That '70s Show.” The trend isn’t just T.V. shows either, but some of my personal favorite comedies and rom-coms. I try not to think too hard about how transphobic the whole concept behind “She’s The Man” is, for example.

Acknowledging that the movies and shows I love are sexist is bad enough, but a voice inside me resists condemning them totally. That voice whispers to me that comedy is supposed to be offensive, and it’s all just joking. But that voice is absolutely wrong. I may have to remind myself that occasionally, but funny doesn’t have to be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic. Proving that are Trevor Noah, Sasheer Zamata, Kate McKinnon, and all the other talented comedians that can be genuinely funny without taking cheap shots at marginalized groups.

In her article, Molly Ringwald argues that despite their “blind spots” as she calls them, the movies she starred in are still valuable in the message of empowerment they gave to teenagers. But is the same true of sitcoms and shows with less artistic value? I don’t really know, but I think denouncing them totally probably won’t help. They are pop culture milestones that whether we agree with them or not, will remain relevant, at least for the foreseeable future.

While that may be true for older, already successful shows and movies for those still on the air or coming out now, we can make a choice. We can be conscious consumers and make a point that we demand jokes that don’t degrade others — comedy and art of a higher order. Because more and more, we see that it’s not just possible, but even funnier and more relatable.

Cover Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television

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