Turtles All the Way Down

Review From User :

I've been having a bad run with YA lately. I've loved it for so long that I persevere on, remembering that there are gems, that there are treasures, but increasingly I've found myself worried - have I grown out of it Have I overdone it Each novel seems to be repeating some unspoken pattern, or at least trying to make something new out of the same ingredients. It was with trepidation, then, that I wandered in to Turtles All The Way Down, thinking "yes, I've liked John Green books in the past, but maybe that was before I had grown tired of the same ingredients." NOPE. IT'S GREAT. YA IS ALIVE AND WELL.

Like always, I'm thankful for Green's refusal to dumb anything down. He treats his teenagers like adults because they are adults, or nearly are, and at the very least deserve the same respect as adults. When we are introduced to Aza's life, and her way of living it, nothing is hidden. Her anxiety and mental health continue to be an unrelenting problem in the narrative because they are an unrelenting problem in her narrative. It doesn't ease up, it doesn't get fixed, and at times it is nearly physically painful to read about a sad girl who can't get better. You do just want to reach into the pages and give her a shake, or a hug, and tell her to please get better. But that's the point. She can't. Or not forever. And that's okay. Because she's still lovely and wonderful and loved.

I have a particular love for the ending. My dad and I agree that watching a good movie is more fun the second time. Now you know that every thing is going to be all right and you can just relax and enjoy it. I went into the ending so nervous that it would be cheesy, or unrealistically hopeful, or really unnecessarily sad. I was so surprised by an ending that moved on from being a teenager, looked at a life beyond teenage hood, that I nearly cried. I nearly cried because not enough teenagers hear that what they're going through truly matters, but also that they'll be leading a completely different life very soon. It was something I told my brother constantly when he was still in high school and I had gone on to University and suddenly had to try and remember how hard high school had been.

A note on technology: I feel very strongly about the use of technology in YA. It frustrates me to no end when a teenager "leaves their phone at home" or "runs out of data" or "doesn't think to text someone something time sensitive." It isn't the way that teenagers function, it doesn't make any sense, it ignores a huge part of the way that teenagers understand themselves and each other, and can you tell that I really care about it yet John Green does the impossible here: he manages to include technology organically, to make it important to the story and to their lives, but without making it gimmicky. For that, I am also thankful.

Finally, I am thankful for this representation of mental health. It is ugly, sad, disturbing, frustrating, but not hopeless. It isn't everything (even though sometimes it is) and it's honest. I am so happy, so unbelievably happy, that kids and teenagers and also adults will have this. That they will read it and feel understood, or empathize, or both. You know how we always want books to "make us better people" To "show us new perspectives we couldn't imagine" Pick up Turtles All The Way Down.

Full disclosure: I read an early version of the book and worked with John Green and his editor, and my name is in the acknowledgments! The posting of this review is unrelated to the work I did!


Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Turtles All the Way Down