So what the cover description of this book doesn’t explicitly mention is that Aza, the main character, has a pretty severe anxiety disorder. That’s really the core topic of the book – her thought spirals and dealing with life while caught in them. I trust John Green to write about these because he also suffers from severe anxiety. He’s talked about it in interviews and his vlogbrothers Youtube channel. (I’m a big Green brothers fan – what’s known as a nerdfighter.) So when John Green writes a character with anxiety, I believe that it’s a realistic portrayal. I loved the integration of technology in the story – two characters don’t just text each other, the text conversation is on the page, formatted differently, so it’s obvious these are text messages. I always love books that do that.
There’s not a whole lot I can say about the book without giving things away; a lot of John Green’s characters tend to wax eloquently about philosophy and things outside themselves, and Aza doesn’t do that because she’s so trapped within her own thoughts. She can’t think of the future or existential dread because she’s too worried about the microbes in her stomach getting out of control and giving her diseases. Definitely a departure from his usual story, though it does fit his standard MO of Main character meets other character who profoundly changes main character’s life in some way. (There’s a third part that is also consistent with most of John Green’s novels but it’s a spoiler.)
I think the book is a really good book for anyone who loves someone with anxiety. Or even for those who have anxiety themselves, to see that they’re not alone.
From the cover of Turtles All The Way Down:
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.