Thursday, October 19, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (2017)

It feels like it's been about a decade since John Green's last novel, and for a while there I didn't think he'd write another one. But finally the happy day has arrived! And passed, because I read the book in about two days and now I'm in the same position of being caught up on his books and having who-knows-how-long to wait for another. Possibly for all of eternity. ANYWAY.

The premise of the story is that a billionaire went missing overnight to escape indictment, and there's a very large reward being offered for information on his whereabouts. Sixteen-year-old Aza has taken notice of this situation - or rather her best friend Daisy has - because it so happens that Aza used to be close with the billionaire's son, Davis. Daisy persuades Aza to take the opportunity to rekindle their old friendship and Aza does. Davis sees right through it, but it doesn't actually matter because as it turns out he and Aza hit it off quite well.

But what makes this all so much more interesting is that Aza suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It really screws with her life. She gets into these thought spirals and can't escape and can't participate in what's going on around her while it's happening. She has a cut on her finger that she keeps re-opening and is convinced she's going to die of a bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile or C. diff, which can be fatal. We have access to her thoughts, her conversations about this with her mother and Daisy, and her therapy appointments. I don't think I've read anything about mental illness that put me as a reader quite this effectively into the character's thought processes. It was scary, and I just felt so bad for her because the main issue is that she can't control her thoughts and, I mean, who can? Most of us are just lucky that our thoughts aren't quite like this. It's no secret that John Green has OCD himself, which explains why he has such good insight into this. It must have been painful to write.

I loved Davis and his younger brother Noah. They really were rich beyond rich, but they seemed to realize that their life wasn't exactly normal. Their house had a movie theater and a pool. They had a full staff including a house manager, who was basically their stand-in parent while their father was missing. It was so sad because nobody seemed to appreciate that they needed someone to take care of them. Their mother was already dead, and Davis was old enough that he and Noah could be on their own and just needed a legal guardian, who I think might have been the house manager. But Noah was not dealing well at all with the situation. Davis wasn't crazy about his dad anyway, but Noah really missed him. Aza was the only one who seemed to understand and to empathize with him.

I haven't even mentioned the tuatara. Their father's will left everything to a pet a tuatara. You know, as you do.

Anyhow, if you like John Green I don't even have to tell you to read this. In my opinion it's not, like, TFIOS-level awesome, but it's still a book by John Green which makes it better than the majority of books out there. I really enjoyed the time I spent with it.

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