Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, best paired with a Blazin’ Texan Burger and a side of onion rings from Applebee’s. Cheers, Tara
In Turtles All the Way Down — John Green’s first novel since the phenomenal success of Fault in Our Stars in 2012— a 16-year-old girl named Aza Holmes struggles with crippling anxiety.
Fans of John Green will understand that this is a quieter novel than the epic tragedy of Fault in Our Stars, although the two books offer the same charming winks to literature, melancholy teenage romance and glorious exploration of astronomy and philosophy.
Uber fans of John Green will know that the book’s main character and author are inextricably intertwined. John Green has talked openly about his own battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Ava has a wistful mother (“Sometimes I miss you being a little kid, but then I remember Chuck E. Cheese.”), a deceased father (“And the thing is, when you lose someone, you realize you’ll eventually lose everyone.”), an old jalopy named Harold (I haven’t fallen in love with a fictional car like this since Herbie the magical Volkswagen), and a whole lot of teenage angst (“I was so good at being a kid, and so terrible at being whatever I was now.”)
The mystery of a missing billionaire introduces us to Davis Pickett, the billionaire’s son, and Aza experiences first love in all its saccharine glory: “Everyone always celebrates the easy attractiveness of green or blue eyes, but there was a depth to Davis’s brown eyes that you just don’t get from lighter colors, and the way he looked at me made me feel like there was something worthwhile in the brown of my eyes too.”
But the real star of the novel is the female friendship between Aza and Daisy Ramirez. Reminiscent of Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang, Aza and Daisy are each other’s person. “What I want to say to you, Holmesy, is that yes, you are exhausting, and yes, being your friend is work. But you are also the most fascinating person I have ever known, and you are not like mustard. You are like pizza, which is the highest compliment I can pay a person.”
The relationship breaks down over the course of the narrative—emotions, mistakes and insecurities are exposed—but emerges stronger than ever. “My whole life I thought I was the star of an overly earnest romance movie, and it turns out I was in a goddamned buddy comedy all along.”
I loved the flawed friendship, the comfort the bond between two strong female characters brings to each of them, and I especially loved that a platonic friendship eclipsed romance as the soul of a YA novel.