“Turtles All the Way Down”

Sophia Comas, Guest Writer

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John Green’s new book “Turtles All the Way Down” — his first new book since his 2012 novel “The Fault in Our Stars” — isn’t the easiest read but it is definitely worth it.

The novel starts out slow but eventually evolves into a plot that describes the beauty of friendship and the harsh realities of living with anxiety.

The story focuses on a young girl named Aza Holmes, who suffers from a form of OCD called mysophobia, or fear of germs. Her journey with anxiety is documented throughout the novel as she and her friend Daisy Ramirez assist in the search for Russell Davis Pickett, the millionaire father of David Pickett. They visit with Davis in hopes to gain the $100,000 reward money for any information regarding his father. The discussion eventually leads Davis and Aza to discover their feelings for each other and in the midst of their investigation the two become a couple.

While no new leads appear in the search, Aza and Daisy come to odds with each other over their perceived meanings of their friendship. Their argument sheds light onto the true severity of Aza’s internal conflicts and her struggles with anxiety — something many teens can relate to.

This novel not only addresses the many mental health issues surrounding most young people, but also includes how some illnesses can be so easily dismissed.

Green’s past experiences with mental health and OCD have helped shape the novel and the characters in it. In an interview with Time magazine, Green opened up about the illness he has suffered from and how it influenced the way characters were written.

It was really hard, especially at first, to write about this thing that’s been such a big part of my life. But in another way, it was really empowering because I felt like if I could give it form or expression I could look at it and I could talk about it directly rather than being scared of it,” Green said to Time. “One of the main things I wanted to do in the book was to get at how isolating it can be to live with mental illness and also how difficult it can be for the people who are around you because you’re so isolated.”

By the end of the story, Green leaves behind a powerful message to those suffering with mental illness and creates a sense of understanding for those who don’t. He not only writes about a topic that has only recently found its way into the entertainment industry but depicts it in a way that most people can relate to.

While somewhat difficult to read at first, Green manages to capture the hard truth to surviving mental illness while incorporating the everyday life of a high school student. I applaud the bravery and vulnerability of the novel that is John Green’s “Turtles All the Way Down.”

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