I’ve been absolutely obsessed with John Green and his writing since my freshman year of high school. I love the unique narratives he tells and I enjoy the interesting little tidbits I learn throughout his novels. "The Fault in Our Stars" will always be my favorite book of his, but that will never stop me from tearing through the pages of his other books (and hopefully future books).
I was so excited when John announced the release of his newest book, "Turtles All The Way Down." As a result of my amazing calculus teacher senior year, I was already familiar with the story surrounding the term “turtles all the way down” and I was excited to see how that was going to play into the story.
"Turtles" is told from the perspective of Aza Holmes. Aza is a teenage girl that has OCD and likely anxiety (it’s never explicitly stated what she has and I am no professional, this is just my guess). Aza’s old friend’s millionaire father goes missing and Aza’s best friend Daisy is on a mission for the two of them to figure out what happened to the two of them.
In every aspect of this book, I was surprised. Without spoiling anything, I thought that this was going to be a story about a girl with a mental illness who falls in love, solves a mystery with her amazing best friend by her side, and eventually gets better. This was not that story. That’s not anyone’s real story. Thank you, John Green, for sparing me that story.
The glimpse inside Aza’s mind was beyond enlightening. Aza is obsessed with the idea of bacteria and other microorganisms living on and inside of her and has some obsessive habits that come as a result of that. I’d always kind of heard the general experience of those who have mental illnesses through the media and online, but this was almost like you were experiencing it with her. You hear her inner dialogue and logic and fight to gain control over her own mind and it’s really truly an interesting look inside her head.
One of the largest things that I vastly appreciated about this book, though, was that it was not a love story where the girl with the mental illness is saved by the perfect guy. No thanks. Aza from the beginning of the book until the end has her mental illness and the only progress she makes with it is entirely the result of her own work and challenge. There is no hottie on a white horse that shows up and magically makes her forget about all of the things that were completely overtaking her mind moments before. It was very refreshing to see this.
There are nearly no characters in this story who couldn’t be people that you’d meet out in the real world. They all have their own quirks and habits and they’re "flawed." I literally cannot say how refreshing it was to see a main character who can hardly get a grip on telling her own narrative at times, a best friend who’s kind of a lovable dick, and a mother who isn’t ridiculously clueless and doesn’t know how to deal with her daughter’s mental illness.
"Turtles All The Way Down" is a delightfully refreshing look on what it’s like to be a teen and what it’s like to be a teen with mental illness or that’s suffered a tragic loss of a family member. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s entirely touching. Please read this book. You won’t regret it.