Friday, December 5, 2014

Looking For Alaska - John Greene

Summary: before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" [Francois Rabelais, poet] even more.  He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe.  Because down the hall is Alaska Young.  The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself.  She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
after.  Nothing is ever the same.  (Summary from back of the book and image from www.ala.org)

My Review:  This book was recommended to me by a teaching friend I highly admire, and I'm glad she did.  Did you have to read Catcher in the Rye?  Did you hate it as much as I did, despite understanding the point of reading a 'coming of age' story?  Hated it.  Still hate it.  Would probably still want to throw it across the room if I had to read it again.  This book is nothing like that.  While I cannot relate to the wilder side of these kids, I can relate to getting caught up in the world of your high school friends.  And I can relate to studying my way through tough classes that make you grapple with subjects you're not sure you can master.  I can relate to the angst of unrequited love and at times finally attaining it, or so you think, only to lose it.  There is only one aspect I can't relate to, as having not experienced it while in high school.  And I don't dare tell you what that is, lest I give away the story.  And that would be a crime.

What makes this story so gripping is the reality of the characters, developed so believably, in a much more current day setting despite it being a boarding school--we really don't have those here in Oregon that I'm aware of.  And the way the characters react or act, depending on the situation, is so real.  So real because sometimes you think back on a situation, obsess over a situation, and kick yourself over and over again because you know what you should have done and yet you didn't.  And that regret, that frustration, that anger at yourself is so relate-able, so much the human experience.  And this is why it doesn't surprise me that this is a huge hit with teens.

Please note the information in for the sensitive reader below.  This very easily could offend some readers and I want parents or teachers to be aware of the more mature content.

For the sensitive reader:  Definitely not for a young YA reader.  In fact, I'm not sure some parents would want their children reading this until they were adults.  Depiction of one sexual experience--definitely not graphic, but still could be shocking for some.

Rating: 4 stars

Sum it up:  A coming of age story dealing with loss.

Read Heather's review here:  http://readingforsanity.blogspot.com/2013/11/looking-for-alaska-john-green.html

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