Book Review: “Turtles All the Way Down”

Book twenty eight of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Before I get into the my most recent book review, I thought I’d let you know I’ve decided to lower my goal for the 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge. Instead of reaching for the 50 book goal I will be trying to get 40 books read instead. 50 books has proven to be a challenging goal that I cannot reach this year, but I’m hoping to continue and at least get 40 read. So here is the review for book 27:

John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down

I have always been a fan of John Green’s Crash Course videos, especially when I was in high school, and then when he published The Fault in Our Stars when I was a sophomore and it gained a ton of popularity, I began reading his books. I read The Fault in Our Stars first, watched the movie, and then read some of his earlier novels. I recently got to read his latest novel Turtles All the Way Down and I really enjoyed it.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy reading young adult novels and I find that the real reason behind it is that I’m still a young adult. I may be 22 (almost 23) but I still relate to the characters in YA novels. In addition to associating to the “not so mature, still learning the ropes of life” aspect, in this novel I also related to the main character Aza and her pronounced anxiety. She lives with this “ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts” that I’ve experienced myself in recent years.

As someone who constantly fights with my own train, or spiral of thoughts, I empathized with Aza and her struggles. I think Green’s raw portrayal of her mental state might come across as dark and not appropriate for younger readers, but in reality it’s accurate to what a lot of young people are going through. Being in high school is tough. Being in college is tough. Even being a young professional is tough. Having the opportunity to connect with a character who is experiencing similar things assures you that you aren’t alone.

I personally escape my reality by reading books and entering a world that isn’t my own. Having a character like Aza that I relate to brings that world a little closer to home. In this case, it was a good thing because it shows that with hard work, love, help and faith you can overcome your own demons. I think a lot of those in my generation and the ones after me could use a little encouragement and a little help from reading a book that gives them hope.

With Aza’s anxiety, Davis’s love for his brother and Daisy’s perseverance to live her best life there can be a lot learned from this fictional novel. The plot may seem a little extraordinary and the characters may only be 16, but the mentality and drive that keeps the characters going is valuable to any reader of any age.

I personally connected with this book more than I thought I would and for that reason I recommend it to anyone that might feel a bit lost, anxious or just stuck in a rut.

***If you are someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, mysophobia, or intense anxiety take caution before reading this book.

Stay tuned for my next review.

Book Review: “I Was Here”

Book twenty three of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Gayle Forman’s I Was Here

Forman, the author of If I Stay and Where She Went, brings another coming-of-age novel to the YA genre with I Was Here.

I don’t think I will ever get out of the YA genre. Maybe when I’m in my 60s, but right now I really like reading YA and Forman is a great YA writer. I read If I Stay and Where She Went when I was in high school and really liked the books and style of writing. I Was Here is another great addition to Forman’s novels.

The novel is about Cody, a young adult, who has recently lost her best friend to suicide. She spends the novel investigating her death and coping with the fact that she never saw it coming. In her investigation she finds new friends and learns a lot about more about her best friend. And like all coming-of-age novels the main character learns more about herself as well.

I really liked this novel because Cody’s character showed tremendous love and dedication to her best friend and also grew throughout the novel because of that love and dedication. I really enjoy character development and Cody’s character developed throughout the story in many different ways. It kept me engaged and I wanted to keep reading after every chapter.

The topic of suicide is always touchy no matter what medium you’re talking through. I think Forman handled it very well considering teenage suicide is a topic that is hard to talk about in an appropriate way. She handled the overall situation with a story about what happens after someone is gone and how friends and family have to handle it. The actual suicide was only mentioned as a past event and had very little detail which I think is the best way to approach it.

Another non-plot related aspect that I really liked in Forman’s novel was the short chapter length. I think having shorter chapters keeps the reader in focus and it makes reading easier in a way. I also think it’s a great approach to YA writing.

Overall I really enjoy Gayle Forman’s novels and her writing style in particular. I recommend this book with caution of course. If you’re sensitive to the topic of suicide I’d consider another book.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis