Looking for Alaska by John Green

I’m in love with John Green. Or at least his writing. This was an amazing novel, and to think it was a debut is astounding. It may have been written with young adults in mind, but it surely should not be limited to them.

The Alaska referred to in the title is a person rather than a place. Alaska is unlike anyone Miles “Pudge” Halter has ever known. She’s smart, sexy, funny, wild, a bit self-destructive, and she doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. Pudge can use a few friends. He’s new to Culver Creek Boarding School, and between Alaska and Pudge’s roomate, The Colonel, he quickly figures out that he’s got a lot to learn. The group has a fine old time, testing their limits, until tragedy strikes, and Pudge finds he doesn’t even know much about himself.

He’s helped along in this endeavor by his history teacher, who, through religion, is helping the students find an answer to Simon Bolivar’s query “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” Exploring what that labyrinth is and how to extricate yourself from it, or even IF you should, was great fun with these well-written teens. Green’s teen characters are smart, sharp, funny people, and even in the face of unspeakable grief you will recognize them as being just like someone you know. Their struggle to deal with the trauma is an emotional roller coaster, and watching them grow as they get through it adds to the realism.

Don’t mistake this book for something you’ll cry all the way through. Okay, you might, but you’ll be laughing at the same time.

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