To be honest, I’ve always thought John Green’s books weren’t really worth the hype they received. However, I genuinely enjoyed Turtles All the Way Down and the important messages it offers.
In this book, Green’s protagonist Aza Holmes and her best friend Daisy are broke high school students in the city of Indianapolis. When they hear that law enforcement is offering a huge reward for information regarding the disappearance of Aza’s millionaire neighbor, they naturally launch their own investigation. However, an even larger part of this story is Aza’s battle with mental illness.
John Green does an amazing job of giving readers a glimpse into the struggles of those who struggle with mental illnesses. Through Aza’s eyes we are able to better understand how her illness impacts her on a daily basis, including how it differs with each day. The most important insight, though, is that while Aza’s illness is one struggle in her life, it is not her only struggle or by any means the thing that defines her. She thinks, feels, and cares deeply, and though at times her illness holds her back from living life the way should wants to, it never completely consumes her. Part of the reason for this is the care that people like her mother and best friend Daisy offer her.
Daisy, aside from being the hilarious character we all want to know in real life, is an amazing picture of friendship. At times, she struggles with jealousy and frustration toward her best friend, and like many others doesn’t really understand what Aza goes through on a daily basis. Yet, she sticks with her through it all. Aza similarly stands by Daisy even when she is frustrated by her lack of understanding or tendency to spend way too much time with her new boyfriend. Relationships, especially lifelong friendships, are hard work, and at times our society suggests that it’s better to take the easy route out and end the friendship rather than stick with someone through difficult times. Aza and Daisy’s friendship beautifully illustrates the value that lifelong friendships have and the importance of sticking with someone even if they aren’t their best self at the time.
On a less important note, I have to stop and appreciate John Green’s descriptions in this book. Some author’s descriptions strike me as idealistic or irrelevant, but some of the scenes and emotions in this book will stick with you. As someone who attends a college near Indianapolis, let me just say these descriptions of Indiana in this book are incredibly accurate, and wherever you are, the stars on a clear night never disappoint.
On the whole, I think this book is a must-read, and I highly recommend picking up a copy and enjoying this thoughtful, hilarious novel.