Book Review: John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down is a Page Turner


Graphic by Luca Rivera

Graphic by Luca Rivera

Bernadette Russo, Co-News Editor, Sophmore

Aza is just trying to live in her own mind, but that’s hard to do when there are ten million other things happening on the sidelines. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is a young adult fiction novel that explores Aza’s struggle and discusses topics such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety, mystery, and the difficult climb of teenage life. Aza is a teenager that suffers from severe anxiety and paranoia about any germs that enter her body. But everything changes when a wealthy businessman suddenly disappears, causing mystery to strike her small town in Indiana. She and her best friend, Daisy, are on the hunt to solve it, but the internal machinations of Aza’s mind interfere with her detective skills. As John Green is someone that deals with OCD and anxiety problems himself, he portrays Aza’s mental health in the most pure and realistic way possible. His novel contains absolutely no sugar coating, but just the plain and rigid truth about mental illness. Even if you don’t have first-hand experience with these topics, Green illustrates the battle between Aza and her mind with the use of intense descriptive language and metaphor that is executed in such a way to makes all readers, whether they are going through the same problems or not, empathize with what she is facing and become attached to her spiraling thoughts and struggles.

Turtles All the Way Down dug deep into me like no other novel has before. From the moment I started reading, I was instantly hooked. It absolutely earns 4.7 out of 5 stars, for portraying a wide variety of emotions in the most real and raw ways possible. Readers of Green’s best sellers The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska had high expectations for this book and those hopes were met. While those books were both compelling in their eloquence, Green’s newest novel allows more people to relate. He tries to teach readers through this novel to never let their internal thoughts and mental illnesses take control. It is not your thoughts that define you, but rather what you choose to make of them. As Aza’s problems progress and she sinks to deep lows, readers see how far she has come in her journey. From her moments of breakdown when her manipulative mind takes over to the times to when she finds the light within her illness, Turtles All the Way Down is a noteworthy novel that spreads awareness about mental illness, anxiety, and the honest struggle of being a teenager.