Looking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Looking for Alaska starts off a a light hearted coming of age book, where a young nerd boy goes off to boarding school and much comedy ensues. The book covers first love, first kiss and yes, first blow job. All of this works well, I did not just identify with the main character Miles "Pudge" Halter, but I also identified with Chip "The Colonel" Martin and Alaska Young (her real name), who are his best friends and the primary instigators of all the teenage antics they perform. Up to this point, it is a fun book, well written and beautiful characterizations. The book very much reminded me of the good things about being a teenager.
About halfway through the book, the unthinkable happens and Alaska Young dies in a car crash. I have to say, this is one of the best deaths I read in a very long time. Not in terms of interesting or spectacular or anything like that, but in terms of emotional hit. Because it hits like a bull out of no where and leaves you thinking what the fuck just happened. Now, with just under half the book left to read, the reader is no longer reading about the fun loving teenagers sneaking cigarettes, but suddenly left with sullen and remorseful teenagers coming to terms with the death of their friend and deal with their grief in their own ways. No teenager should have to read this book, but they probably should.
There are uncomfortable moments in this book, subject matters that teenagers probably should not be reading about. The problem with this view point, is I am an adult and I am viewing this story through the lens of an adult whose memories of being a teenager are not as clear as they once were. There is a semi graphic scene describing oral sex, these kids also engage in drinking and drug use, as an adult, this bothers me. However, this is what being a teenager is like, these kids taking their first tentative steps into adulthood and are exploring the possibilities. This is what it is like to be a teenager and we should not avoid these subjects, rather they should be included in stories like this, because oftentimes it can be a jumping off point for parents to talk about these subjects with their kids. Being uncomfortable was good for me and made me realize, teenagers have really not changed that much since I was one.
This book was better than I was expecting. While it is classified as Young Adult, this is a book even an old ass adult can enjoy.
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