John Green, best selling author of The Fault in Our Stars, has done it again. On October 10th, 2017 John Green released Turtles All the Way Down, a novel starring Aza Homes, a sixteen year old girl that faces the challenges of boys, school, solving mysteries, and her own mind.
Aza Homes is not your typical "girl next door" who has her life together, lives in a fancy neighborhood, and looks flawless, but she is the character we have all been waiting for.
Here are just a few reasons why Aza Homes is breaking stereotypical boundaries of a lead teen girl character in newest novel:
1. She struggles with OCD.
It's no secret that throughout the novel, Aza struggles with the voices in her head that constantly tell her what to think and what to do. Her thoughts spiral into deeper and more persistent commands as she ignores them, which is why she is constantly worried. One glimpse into Aza's mind, "'He's trying to treat you like you're normal and you're trying to respond like you're normal but everyone involved knows you are definitely not normal.'" Aza is an anxious character, but she doesn't let it stop her from opening up to her mom, Daisy, or Davis about her struggles. This unique trait lets readers open up about mental illness and informs them on what it might be like to live with OCD.
2. Her thoughts on relationships:
There are too many times where relationships between characters just fall into place. In TATWD, Davis and Aza's relationship is far from perfect, and takes a lot of communication and pushes both of them outside of their comfort zones. Aza has a few things to say when it comes to romantic relationships that just might be more relatable than they were intended to be:
As Aza puts it in the novel, she thinks relationships are awkward: "Like, parts of typical romantic relationships that made me anxious included 1. Kissing; 2. Having to say the right things to avoid hurt feelings; 3. Saying more wrong things while trying to apologize; 4. Being at a movie theater together and feeling obligated to hold hands even after your hands become sweaty and the sweat starts mixing together; and 5. The part where they say, "What are you thinking about?" And they want you to be, like, "I'm thinking about you, darling," but you're actually thinking about how cows literally could not survive if it weren't for the bacteria in their guts, and how that sort of means that cows do not exist as independent life-forms, but that's not really something you can say out loud, so you're ultimately forced to chose between lying and seeming weird." -John Green
3. Aza's internet sleuthing abilities.
From Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even private blogs, Aza seems to be able to find a variety of information relating to mostly Davis. Aza tells Daisy while she is starring at her laptop, "'Um, Davis had a girlfriend, but they broke up last November-ish. He has a blog but hasn't updated anything since his dad disappeared." Admit it, we've all done it, but Aza owns up to her sleuthing throughout the novel when she finds out Davis's true feelings on his private poetry blog, and how Daisy feels about her constant worrying through her Star Wars fan-fiction.
4. She's awkward.
There are no shortages of awkward moments throughout the novel. Times such as when Aza thought Mychal was asking her on a date, when in reality he was asking if her best friend would be interested in him, or when Aza freaked out after her first kiss with Davis under the stars, or how she is thinking about her overly sweaty hands a little too much all the time.
We don't need another perfect looking, pampered teenager giving us life advice. Teenagers want relatable characters that they share deeper connections with. The world needs more characters like Aza, who is smart, has good friendships, and opens up the tough conversation of mental illness. Turtles All the Way Down is a fantastic novel that brings to light a knowledgeable conversation of OCD, a mental illness that John Green himself has dealt with personally. Life isn't perfect, and neither is Aza, which makes her the character we have all been waiting for.