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  • Noha Badawi

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

“We never really 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 even more intimate than eye contact anyway. I mean, anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”


Impressed.

Emotional.


Those words could be somewhat of a description for how i felt finishing Turtles all the way down. I couldn’t begin to wrap my head around how a person that knows me not, and knows nothing about me could write a book that speaks to me and feels like it was written just for me. Gone for quite a while, John Green returns with a story that could possibly touch millions of readers’ hearts.


The story is about 16 years Aza Holmes, who’s pursuing the mystery of a billionaire disappearance with her best friend Daisy. The billionaire happens to be the father of her childhood crush; Davis Pickett. Aza is truly struggling with her mental illness – OCD and anxiety – and she’s trying. She’s trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good girlfriend and even a good detective. Doing all that while living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.


Turtles All the Way Down, John Green, Dutton Books for Young Readers, Penguin Random House, October 10th 2017,  ISBN: 9780525555360, Hardcover, Rating: ★★★★, 288 pages

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.” 


Before sitting down to write a review, i thought a lot about what i’m going to say in my review, how can i put together in words what i felt reading that book. It’s really hard to find words when a story touches you that much.


I wasn’t a huge John Green fan before. Yes, i loved some of his books – the fault in our stars and Looking for Alaska – but with the other books i felt that something was missing from the story. In Turtles All the Way Down, his writing is truly fascinating. Despite the fact that the plot line is not the most captivating, i found myself lost in Aza‘s story. I enjoyed being in her head, her life and thoughts – not the best comfortable place to be but that girl has many layers to her.


Aza Holmes – our main character – is a teenager struggling with her OCD, her anxiety and her thoughts are always attacking her in the most brutal way that she felt imprisoned in her own head most of the time. Only at first, I struggled a bit with fully understanding that she’s a girl because I heard John’s voice in every word. It was hard to read her story, to read about her thoughts process and spiraling, what she goes through but John wrote so damn well. I related to this girl a lot and on so many levels – losing a part and not being okay with it, being trapped in your own thoughts, uncontrollable fears taking over your thoughts wheels, the feeling of never being enough. On the other side, damn that girl is brave; it takes a lot of courage to be able to fall and stand up again and take all of that without breaking for good. She did know she made mistakes and she tried to always make it better. She felt real, not some made up unrealistic teenager who’s the best in everything.


“You are as real as anyone, and your doubts make you more real, not less.”


As short as i felt the story to be, rushed on some parts even, i enjoyed every part of it. I tabbed a lot of my book and when i say a lot i mean it – like 50 tabs or something haha!! I related immensely to the story and I was truly impressed by the amount of beautiful words put together in this work.


“You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved, that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how and you become a person and why.” 


Also what i think should be taken as a positive point to this story, the romance. It was not the main center around which everything was built and it made it even more good. I believed that this delivered the idea that is if you have to be strong, you don’t need someone with you, you’re very capable of rocking the world on your own. Having people around you that loves is something pushes you to do more beautiful things but it shouldn’t be the main reason.


I didn’t plan on reading this book, but actually reading it is one of the best decisions i made.

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