I feel like writing a ‘review’ of a John Green book shouldn’t be a thing. Really there should just be a transmitted interruption to life everywhere that says, in big, bold black letters:
JOHN GREEN HAS RELEASED A NEW BOOK. GO READ IT NOW.
And yet, here I am. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, John Green is the genius who wrote The Fault in Our Stars. And if you’ve neither read the book nor seen the movie, then I’m sorry to say we can no longer be friends. What’s that? You’ll go read it now? Okay, I’ll wait…
I’ve had the paperback version of Turtles All The Way Down on pre-order for months (it came out on 1 October 2018). Partly because I was feeling poor enough to not want to stump up for the hardcover back in 2017, and partly because I apparently forgot that I’m a book blogger and could probably have just emailed Penguin Books and asked them nicely to send me a review copy please thank you.
So for what it’s worth, here’s my review of Turtles All The Way Down.
What it’s about
Aza Holmes is sixteen years old. She has a car named Harold, a best friend named Daisy who never stops talking. Which works fine for her as it gives her time to deal with the compulsive thought spirals that threaten to engulf her daily.
When the shady billionaire across the river goes missing, Daisy pushes Aza into reconnecting with his son, Davis – a childhood friend – to find information that might lead to a $100,000 reward. The pressure of the rekindled friendship combined with Daisy’s refusal to let the investigation go might be enough to push Aza over the edge altogether.
What I thought of it
OMG IT’S AMAZING IT’S SO BRILLIANT YOU HAVE TO READ IT.
John Green intersperses blinding insights with hilarious anecdotes delivered by unforgettable characters. Technically classified as young adult fiction because the main characters are teenagers, there is so much in this book for adults as well.
In particular, I strongly encourage you to read this if you’re raising a child who seems to have trouble living in their own head. I related so much to Aza. I’ve never experienced anything as severe as what she does in the book, but that feeling of being trapped inside your own mind and just needing a break was something I felt a lot as a teenager.
I continue to feel it as an adult, I just manage it a whole lot better.
A few of my favourite quotes
Aza Holmes on intimacy:
Davis and I never talked much, or even looked at each other, but it didn’t matter, because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe more intimate than eye contact anyway. Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.
Aza’s psychiatrist on why the word ‘crazy’ is not helpful:
“The term chronic pain captures nothing of the grinding, constant, ceaseless, inescapable hurt. And the term crazy arrives at us with none of the terror and worry you live with. Nor do either of those terms connote the courage people in such pains exemplify, which is why I’d ask you to frame your mental health around a word other than crazy.”
And to end on, this is a long one, but I think this will give you a real feel for the humour and madness of the book. It also gives a great insight into how exhausting it is to be Ava, and how hard it is to be her friend:
“Aren’t you listening?” Daisy asked. I am listening, I thought, to the cacophony of my digestive tract. Of course I’d long known that I was playing host to a massive collection of parasitic organisms, but I didn’t much like being reminded of it. By cell count, humans are approximately 50 percent microbial, meaning that about half of the cells that make you up are not yours at all. There are something like a thousand times more microbes living in my particular biome than there are human beings on earth, and it often seems like I can feel them living and breeding and dying in and on me. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans and tried to control my breathing. Admittedly, I have some anxiety problems, but I would argue it isn’t irrational to be concerned about the fact that you are a skin-encased bacterial colony.