Thursday, April 11, 2013

Note to Self - Looking for Alaska


A book review of Looking for Alaska by John Green. Mild spoilers.

Note to Self:
 

Sometimes you are really going to hate a book at certain points because things you don’t want to happen, happen and things you do want to happen, don’t and you’re going to be mad at the author for this.

Don’t be mad at the author.

Just keep reading.

These books are usually the ones that mean more when you finish. Because they make you forgive the author for putting you through such heartache by making that heartache mean something.

And they make you think. They make you feel and ask and wonder and search.

And then they make you different.

Those are the best kinds of books.
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Looking For Alaska is one of those books. 

I’m noticing a trend with this John Green fellow. His words are like manna to my soul. Then he crushes it. My soul, that is. And then somehow, in some way, with the most perfect melody of words and ideas, he heals it again.

How do you do this, John Green? HOW?!

I am in awe.  (And fighting off the jealousy of wanting to create words like he does, but I’ll put that aside for now).

In so much awe that upon finishing the book, I couldn’t do anything else that required brain power. It needed to recuperate. So I cleaned my bathtub.

Because after a story like Looking for Alaska, I just need to soak my body.

So those words,
read way too fast,
can soak into my soul.

And well, if I’m going to soak my body, I need a clean bathtub.

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Looking for Alaska is a story about finding yourself. About being brave and taking risks and doing stupid things.

It’s about your first time making real friends, first cigarette, first kiss, first blowjob, first time saying ‘I love you’ to the girl asleep next to you. Your first prank, first loss, first time dealing with the crushing weight of guilt. 

About going from a person who lives through books to being a person who lives a story worth remembering and putting in a book. (fictional story, but you get the idea, yes?)

It’s a story about forgiveness and searching for answers and being silly when all you want to do is curl in a ball and cry.

And then sometimes still curling in a ball and crying. Because, as we learned from the Fault in Our Stars, emotions demand to be felt. Even, or especially, when we try to run.

It’s about the Colonel, Pudge, Alaska, and Takumi. And a little bit of Lana, the Eagle, Jake, Sara, and Kevin, too. And a stripper in an inappropriate setting.

A story about loss and what-if’s and the anger of grief slowly melting away.  About learning that anything that comes together will eventually fall apart. Sometimes too soon.

It’s a story about finding answers to life’s biggest questions:
~What happens to us when we die?
~Why do good people get rotten lots in life? 
And. and.
~How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?

It’s about loving your crooked neighbor, with your own crooked heart.*



* quoted in the book, ascribed to Auden. No first name given. And I am not proficient enough in poetry and literature to know who that is.

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Recommendation:

5 stars! Count ‘em   *  *  *  *  *
-  Highly recommend to people looking for a read that is deep, but doesn’t necessarily always feel deep.
-  Highly recommend to people who love beautiful words usage.
-  Definitely recommend for feminist – major female character is vocally feminist!
-  Hesitantly recommend for people who mainly prefer stories with idealist, happy endings.

Tissue Count:
3
Should have been more but I was in bed and too lazy to get up unless I literally couldn’t breathe anymore. Be prepared with at least 5 if you are a crier.

Details for more cautious readers:
Has drinking, smoking, and drug references, all used by teenagers.
Mentions teenage sex often, including two semi-intense make out scenes (kissers on top of each other, with touching of breasts) and a description of a male receiving oral sex.
That said, I don’t think this should turn most people away from reading this story. Most of these things are portrayed in a negative light (well, the substance use and oral sex at least), rather than romanticizing them as something good. If you have more questions or concerns in this area, let me know. 

2 comments:

  1. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read any of John Green's books yet. I'm a little behind on the game. He's been on my TBR list forever, but besides the fact that my TBR list is mammoth, I think I've procrastinated a bit knowing I'm going to need a lot of kleenex to get through some of his stories. This review was awesome! Thanks for sharing it!

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  2. I totally understand the hesitation because of the need for kleenex. I had The Fault in our Stars on my bookshelf for weeks before I felt like I was in an emotional place to handle reading it. I've only read the two, but I loved them both. I mentioned in the review that John Green tears your heart out, but then is really good about healing it back up, too. That's one of the things I love about his books so far; he doesn't leave you wounded, raw, and bleeding. So, maybe that will help combat the procrastination? Whenever you do get around to reading his books, I'm sure you'll love them.

    Thanks for saying the review was awesome. I'm new to reviewing the books I read and a little self-conscious of it. I'm sure that will get better with time - and the help of great compliments like yours! So, thanks for that!

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