Published: 10th October 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.
Where do I start with this novel? I wasn’t entirely sure at first where it was going – all I knew was that I was glad not to be Aza. Aza really struggles against her compulsions, and does all the right things but faces all the wrong outcomes in her battle against herself. Aza is a wonderful example of when thinking becomes overthinking, which becomes nothing short of a curse.
This 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.
But Aza is also just like everyone else: she has to keep up with work in school, she does everything to appease her best friend, she has an overbearing mother to reassure. Throw a little OCD into the mix and, suddenly, everything is even more chaotic. And to make things worse, her potential lover’s father goes missing, and Aza takes it upon herself to solve this mystery.
The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they’d be totally acceptable.
I cannot put into words how accurately Green portrays the mental health experience; the inescapable thoughts, the constant feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness, and, most of all, the way everyone says they will be there for you and everyone gets fed up. My favourite thing about this novel was how it was all show, not tell. Aza never once spoke about her symptoms: she just felt. The reader gets to see everything first-hand, everything from how Aza’s spirals begin, to exactly how a person with mental health problems can both isolate themselves, and also feel isolated (which are often two separate, although sometimes related, occurrences).
[…] she told me that beauty was mostly a matter of attention. “The river is beautiful because you are look at it,” she said.
I would definitely say this is my favourite John Green book to date. It is raw, emotional, and I didn’t even realise I had a heart until it got broken and remade by this book. It is bursting with Greenesque quotes that will make you laugh, think, and, of course, roll your eyes. I’ve never read another book like this before, and I have certainly not read a book in a while that has made me question whether I really do know it all. This book is filled with love and laughter and, above all, hope. The kind of hope everyone needs. Not the hope that things will get better, because oftentimes that hope is an illusion, but the hope that things will still be okay.
Your now is not your forever.
I would recommend this book for people who fall under the following categories:
- People experiencing mental health problems (warning: may be triggering as Aza’s compulsions are quite severe)
- People who have never experienced mental health problems
- People who think OCD is “cute” or “quirky”
- Everyone else
Have you read this book? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!