After reading this quote on Tumblr “You spend your whole life in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that the future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present”, I found myself intrigued wondering where it came from because it is very relevant to my life. My research said that it came from a book titled “Looking For Alaska” by John Green. I read a little on Wikipedia that this book had been banned in some schools because of its sexual content and explicit language. Another reason why this book intrigued me because I couldn’t believe that about that was about a boarding school was going to create so much controversy. I have to tell you, that even though at first I wasn’t as thrilled with the book, when I finished I was in complete awe of how good it was, and of course in tears lol.
The book’s main character is Miles “Pudge” Halter, a teenager living in Florida whose parents decide to send him to boarding school to Alabama at Culver Creek Preparatory school which Miles’ father attended as well when he was younger. Miles is a boy who never really had any friends in Florida, was skinny, “gawky” as he describes himself and never really good at sports. He’s obsessed with knowing famous people’s last words, from presidents to writers, etc. Upon leaving to Alabama, his parents asked him if he was happy, he only said Francois Rabelais last words, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps”.
When he arrives at Culver Creek prep, he becomes friends with his roommate Chip “The Colonel” Martin, who comes from a poor family and is on a scholarship at the school. He obtains his nickname after planning so many pranks to the rich kids at the school, most commonly known as the Weekday Warriors, who unlike other students like Chip and Miles, get to go to their houses every weekend. The Colonel is the one who gives Miles the nickname of Pudge. Later on, The Colonel later introduces Pudge to his friend, Alaska Young, an enigmatic girl who always helps The Colonel with his pranks whom Pudge becomes attracted to. We also meet Takumi, an exchange student from Japan who is as well part of the crew with The Colonel and Alaska and Lara Buterskaya, a Romanian girl who is Alaska’s friend and becomes Pudge’s girlfriend for a short period of time. The story is divided up in in “before” and “after”, which I thought it was great because it developed suspense and anticipation for the reader as we approached the days before the catalyst event that will change everything.
The book focuses in the relationship between Alaska and Pudge, the dilemma starts because even so Pudge liked Alaska since the beginning, Alaska wouldn’t let herself have any feelings for Pudge since she had a boyfriend, Jake, who is in college and she visits often. Alaska even tries to set up Pudge and Lara together, but deep inside Pudge knew it would never work out between them, as we keep reading Alaska and Pudge become closer friends and plan pranks against the Weekday Warriors.
The whole explicit language/sexual content theme of the book in my opinion makes sense, I don’t get why people created such controversy over it when in real life it happens. Anyways, its nothing shocking or anything that we haven’t read/seen before in a story about a boarding school were teenagers curse and hide alcohol.
It sounds like your typical boarding school story, but its so much more than that. What Pudge feels for Alaska is so pure and exciting, and he’s helpless as he knows he can’t do anything about Alaska’s boyfriend. I love Pudge’s fascination with last words, because they always described in a way who those people were. Alaska is fierce, and a master mind when it comes to pranks, as well as a chain smoker. The Colonel is very loyal and funny, as well as Takumi with his rhymes and Lara and her funny accent.
I cried, I laughed, I loved this book. Beyond the whole high school drama, its about life and death. Its about how someone’s life touches you and changes your way of looking at things, how you think of things you would’ve done when you had the chance, what happens to us in the afterlife, how friendship is such a strong bond, how grief is necessary to overcome as we walk our path in our labyrinth that’s called life, and finally, why our last words may or may not define who we were as persons as we seek “The Big Maybe”, that Great Perhaps.