Turtles All The Way Down
By John Green
Genre: Contemporary/Mental Illness
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Aza fears she’s going to contract C Diff, a bacterial infection, so she is aware of all bacteria that enters her body. She’s specifically focused on the sore on her hand. Aza has a best friend named Daisy and a car named Harold that she loves. When an old friend’s father goes missing, Daisy sees this as an opportunity to get rich.
The description seems like this is going to be a mystery but it’s not. Although Aza and Daisy look for a billionaire, it’s more about the relationship with Davis than the hunt for the billionaire.
Aza gets consumed in her fear of C Diff and it causes her to be self centered but not intentionally and I feel like this is one of the main point of Turtles. As the story opens, we are instantly in Aza’s head and her fears of bacteria entering her body through food. She also worries that she’s not in control of her life because of her OCD, the meds she has to take, and generally being told what to do and when to do it by everyone.
While she’s in her own head, Daisy and another friend are having a discussion about a missing billionaire and how they can find him and obtain the $100,000 reward. Aza coincidentally met the billionaire’s son at camp for kids with dead parents about five years ago and Daisy sees this as an opportunity to get clues. When the duo arrive at the mansion, Aza reacquaints with a thoughtful sensitive boy that likes astronomy and quotes. Aza and Davis develop a sweet relationship that cause Aza to see the world differently.
The cover art includes a spiral which are referenced through out the novel and one of the more important references is the metaphorical use of the spiral in relation to how the OCD makes Aza feel. By the end of the book, Aza of course is not cured but she grows and I’m not going to say how because that’s for you to discover. But her growth has to do with the self centeredness.
Speaking of self centered, teens and adults can be self absorbed and Green expounds on this annoying attribute. Daisy has her own issues and the reader can infer on many of them and not through Aza but through Daisy’s comments and behavior. Aza, however, does not seem to take much interest in Daisy because she’s consumed by her OCD. The girls have a frank discussion about this and I thought it was written very well even though it’s unrealistic. Sometimes I feel like Green writes typical teen situations as how they SHOULD go instead of how they DO go. There’s nothing wrong with this; I think teens can gain new perspective but I do find it amusing.
Green uses a picture from Aza’s deceased father’s phone of a sky and Davis’ astronomy interests as a growth strategy for Aza and I thought it was very effective.
My biggest issue with the book is the over explaining of the OCD. I’ve read a couple of books where the MC has this disorder and the author tries a little too hard to get the reader to understand what it’s like. I think Green did one too many analogies.
What I think many teens like about John Green’s books are his quirky characters, their relationships/crushes/manic pixie dream girls, and heartbreak. I fear Turtles has too much dialogue and not enough quirk to keep some teens’ interest. A teen who is a thinker will like it and of course adults will like it.
So after discussing Turtles with my teen book club, I may be wrong about how teens will feel about this book. My book club and other teens I’ve spoken to really liked the book and didn’t find it boring.
Bang Bang Rating 1/4