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.
So I was super excited when this arrived in the post last week- and not just because bookmail is my favourite kind of post. About 10 years ago when I was thirteen I was already three years into my migration from the junior fiction side of the library to what was then called ‘teen fic’ because the hip term YA hadn’t been coined yet. For all of that time I had stuck mainly to fantasy and science fiction, branching tentatively into the then new to me world of dystopians occasionally. But then I became a teenager proper and one day I picked up a contemporary book, Looking for Alaska by John Green. I think it launched me into teendom proper- a year later I read Paper Towns, started watching the vlogbrothers on Youtube, and started developing interests I’d pursue until now.
In short, I have been reading, watching, and being influenced by content created by John Green for almost a decade.
When I got my hands on Turtles All the Way Down a hurricane was blowing in across the Northwest of Ireland and the whole city had the day off. I curled up and read it cover to cover. It was brilliant. Just so thoughtful and genuine and humorous and all the great things I’ve come to expect from John Green’s writing. It was a great story with fantastic story with believable and likeable characters. It’s also fairly gritty in places, and most important of all, it’s a poignant and gentle and comic look at living with mental illness.
The experience of reading this book was enjoyable on several levels. I liked the story for itself, but I also liked how in many ways it was a trip down memory lane, revisiting many of the issues and thoughts expressed in videos over the past few years since the release of TFioS. I think this book is also pretty personal as it explores the experience and effects of living with OCD, something John has been fairly open about experiencing in his own personal life. I related to this a lot- after suffering a minor stroke in 2015 I struggled with health anxiety. Every little twinge or heart flutter was suddenly something I had to think about for hours and Google diagnose. It was horrible and although it’s something I have got under control now after a long stint with a therapist, it’s something I will have to deal with at least in part for the rest of my life. And I totally understood and empathised with the feeling of the protag that this made them excessively inward looking.
I also loved how literary this book was, it referenced and interacted with so many great books including but not limited to; James Joyce’s Ulysses, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, it interacted with fanfiction and even with John’s own earlier writing. It worked with how narrative in real life is both like and unlike the narrative in books, which is ironic, cause this is a book. Honestly, I could write an essay on the literary goings-on in this book.
For the rest of the review I just want to share some of my favourite quotes that show off the writing and philosophy of the book. Don’t read any further if you wanna stay completely spoiler free.
“I don’t mind worriers. Worrying is the correct worldview. Life is worrisome.”
“You feeling scared?” “Kinda.” “Of what?” “It’s not like that. The sentence doesn’t have, like, an object. I’m just scared.”
“Actually, the problem is that I can’t lose my mind,” I said. “It’s inescapable.”
"Everyone wanted me to feed them that story—darkness to light, weakness to strength, broken to whole. I wanted it, too.”
“If only I were as good at life as I am at the internet.”
That’s all from me bookworms- chat to you soon! Booklove, Grace