As a kid, I never found myself reading a lot. All the other kids were getting into books that were so fictional or dramatic that I couldn't follow the storyline. I never knew what I really liked as I had not explored a whole bunch, but I knew something more relatable in a sense or something from an author with a good writing style would be closer to my taste. Little did I know what was to come.
1. The Fault in Our Stars
Remember that one book John Green is especially popular for? That heartbreak love story bound for all eternity? Yeah, I read that before it became a movie or was even spoken about, thanks to my seventh grade English teacher. It was something I could follow, get into, but wasn't quite the direction I was wanting. I didn't need some sappy love story to save me, I needed a true heartbreak, one that could make me feel ice cold before recovering back to reality. The Fault In Our Stars was something I didn't ever expect to get into, but for middle school me, it got me reading again. If you think The Fault in our Stars was great, pick up a copy of Looking for Alaska and get reading. Now.
2. Reading, reading, and more reading
Like stated before, I have always had a hard time finding a book to get into. Some can read book after book and enjoy it even if it's not amazing in their eyes. I wish I had that point of view. For me, I must really be able to dive into the characters, see from that omniscient viewpoint. This book made it as if I was a friend of theirs, tagging along with every late-night adventure.
3. Personal Growth
I think the personal tragedy (I'm trying so hard not to include spoilers) and loss of self is a feeling beyond what can be put into words. John Green, in all his glory, did exactly that. At this time in my life, being in eighth grade for my first read, I think this really helped me step out of my personal issues at the time and think fully about this book. I started to understand things in the world a bit better and continued to keep this on my mind and the events that happened after the event. I grew around this storyline, relating events to things in my life with such pain and sorrow. There was more personal growth and development than I intended. I learned a way to heal from wounds, and I learned to keep going. Is that something I ever expected from a fictional group of friends? Never.
4. Reality check!
Although Looking for Alaska has some adult topics like sex and alcohol, I think it is a reality check at any age. I read this book for the first time when I was 13, and it still hit home. I can still read it now, five years later, and feel the story in the same ways, if not more. Don't go into this thinking it is some censored children's book, it has a much more important role in the world of novels.
Mental health, finally hitting the spotlightOne last, very important, note is the mental health issues in this book. Whether you notice it or not, something is always stirring. This book portrays the blindness to what can be going on underneath the surface that I think everyone could learn from reading about. Mental health is a rather large issue in our world today, and this book does not fail in that category. The feeling of disorientation once it is evident, and feeling like nothing can be done the same way again.
Overall, not everyone will fall in love with this book as much as I have, but I am passionate about the role it plays for young readers, opening up the dialogue to harder subjects and broadening the horizon for young minds. Read it or not, I think we all grow in our own ways. For me, I lived through the experiences of these young teenagers, relating in such abstract ways. May we all still be Looking for Alaska.