The blurb of Turtles All The Way Down is interesting. Not because it indicates mental illness, not because it indicates a certain level of mystery-solving, not because it seems like a novel that strives to be much more than what it looks like. But because it combines all the qualities and becomes much more than what it looks like. Here’s the blurb 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.”
John Green, in each of his stories, brings a lesson that makes you want to hug the book and fall asleep. Everything about them resonates with you to the point where you have revelations about things you already know but didn’t know you knew. From Looking for Alaska to The Fault in Our Stars, every one of his books has resounding truths that somehow have never failed to bring tears to one’s eyes.
Green’s latest, Turtles All The Way Down is also one such novel. The story of Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old student from Indianapolis, Turtles All The Way Down explores Aza’s mind and the insecurities and fears that plague her, no thanks to her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety issues. Trapped in her own mind, doubts weaving their way in to her psyche, locking her in a deadlock, is absolutely heart-wrenching to read.
All of his books describe Indianapolis in all its glory. And that is a connection that probably no author can refute as being genuine. But with Turtles All The Way Down, the connection reaches farther into the depths of John Green’s home than physically possible. The protagonist of the story, Aza and its author share a mental illness. Green had earlier revealed that OCD was something that he battled at points in his life.
Turtles All The Way Down started off in a manner that seemed to be unworthy of all the hype. Soon, I started feeling let down, but as the story picked up and I delved into Aza’s mind further and further, the book began to appeal to me. There is a lot that I could identify with in the story, a lot that I could learn from Aza and her best friend Daisy. Though I must say, I kind of hate Daisy, the reason for which, if revealed now, will prove to be an important part of the story.
I’m not sure how, but John Green manages to make even the simplest views of nature seem utterly beautiful and poetic. In Turtles All The Way Down, When lying down on the grass and looking up at the sky, Aza observes that it isn’t the sky that is the darkest, but the silhouettes of the trees framed against the sky. Doesn’t it make sense? Isn’t the first thing that comes to mind a vision of the night sky and the dark trees? Isn’t the following thought a revelation that sort of blows your mind away? That is the kind of hold that John Green has on words and observation.
Anyway, the first thing that crossed my mind when the name of the book was announced was that I couldn’t make head or tail of the title. Turtles All The Way Down – whatever does that mean? And when I started reading it, and half the clue was staring me right in the face, I still thought that it doesn’t make sense. Because it doesn’t, until you know the context. The context that hits you at almost the fag end of the book. And then it makes so much sense, the world within your head seems to implode with a mighty crunch.
John Green holds a special power over storytelling – one that lays bare every truth in a way that will send shivers down your spine. One minute you think, “How dare-,” and before you finish that thought, you go, “Oh, yes. He is right.” And that is how raw his words are, slicing through your gut with an intensity that knocks you off.
John Green’s last venture, The Fault in Our Stars was a huge success. The pressure on him to bring out something equally good, if not better than TFIOS was extreme. But he didn’t let the pressure get to him. He worked on Turtles All The Way Down and brought it out to resounding success. The one thing that works across all his books is how he doesn’t dumb down his teenage characters. Why can’t a teenager look at the skies and see much further than what even an adult can’t?
I was absolutely excited to get my hands on Turtles All The Way Down and I am so happy to have read it. Have no doubt that I will read it again, thanks to its beautiful characterizations, realistic depictions, and heartbreaking revelations. I’m a masochist, it seems, liking to curl up in the corner and stare into space, repeating sentences to assure myself that I’d read them and found them to be true.
Here’s to John Green, to another sparkling, brilliant YA story that is Turtles All The Way Down!
Rating: 5/5 stars
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Picture Courtesy: Penguin UK