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Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.I last read Looking for Alaska as a nine year-old. It was wildly inappropriate and now, I only recall snippets of the mildly mortifying experience, but I do remember, quite vividly, telling my mother that 'It's a good book! It's just that they swear a lot, Mummy.'
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
Looking back, I actually remember enjoying the story. I was into boarding schools back then, and my personal fascination reached into the roots of YA and adult literature--my first foray into those genres, and I still don't understand why my mum purchased a copy of this book for me. (Admittedly, I did choose it myself.) But I gave it away at some point, and now, a few years later, I decided to re-read the story since Maxine bought a Kindle e-copy.
There were things I remember from my first read; the bufriedo, the descriptions of deep-fried Alabaman food (obviously, my foodie persona goes a long way back), and, most of all, Alaska. I remembered her as a girl who smoked a lot and did 'bad things', but ultimately, I loved her as a character. And I think that my nine year-old self identified what I think are the best things about this book and committed it to my subconscious memory: minus the food, what I enjoyed most were the characters and the great John Green Road Trip which identifies all his work. Miles falls a little limp for me in this one; I didn't fall in love with him the way I did with Q and Hazel, but he was still a great narrator.
Looking for Alaska is a book about love and loss. It's a coming-of-age novel; I think that is why John Green's books are so universally loved by teenagers, because they address what we struggle with most: finding an identity, and finding out who were are. Teenagers are caught in the veil between belonging to their parents and belonging to themselves, and it can be so hard to figure out who we really are while our vision is being obstructed by that filmy curtain. All of Green's characters, minus the dying ones, devote the book to figuring out what and who they are--Q, when he searches for Margo; Miles, when he moves from home to seek a Great Perhaps; and Colin, when he goes on the road trip to recover from his tragic breakup with K19.
We like characters that we can identify with, and in John Green's protagonists, we see faint, fuzzy mirror images of ourselves. We hope that we can grow up the way his characters can grow up: screw up, have fun along the way, but ultimately, turn out as an adult who still struggles with identity issues but finds a place in the world.
And for every teenager who succeeds in doing that, succeeds in pushing past the failure and emerging into this world as a young adult, a few fall along the way.
That's what Looking for Alaska is about. It's a beautiful novel. It's realistic, it's relatable, it was heartbreaking, but it was also truly uplifting.
He was gone, and I did not have time to tell him what I had just now realised: that I forgave him, and that she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth. There were so many of us who would have to live with things done and things left undone that day. Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can’t know better until knowing better is useless.I cannot say anything more about this novel. Five stars.
It was amazing