Title: Turtles All the Way Down
My rating: 5/5
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
Tackling the issue of mental health is not an easy task and yet, John Green interweaves the challenges and thought processes seamlessly in this young adult novel. Recalling the emotional attachment I had with Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters in The Fault in Our Stars, I could speak to similar feelings with Aza Holmes and Davis Pickett. As readers, we follow the thought spirals Aza encounters in moments of anxiety, stress, and unfamiliarity – “The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely” (Green 7). Explaining this to her best friend Daisy later in the story enables us to dive deeper into what those feelings of overwhelming proportions are like. The riff between them as well as the distance created with Davis, causes Aza to come to terms with what she calls the dragon as they are inseparable.
There were several existential thoughts shared and reflected on in both Aza’s and Davis’s perspective that deserve looking into. Davis’s blog revealed thought-provoking statements such as “The worst part of being truly alone is you think about all the times you wished that everyone would just leave you be. Then they do, and you are left being, and you turn out to be terrible company” (Green 186). As an introvert, I have felt this numerous times and start to question whether or not I am pushing people away and if I am, then for what? Another thought was, “I kept thinking about how the sky is a singular noun, as if it’s one thing. But the sky isn’t one thing. The sky is everything. And last night, it was enough” (Green 57). Reflecting on what is really important and the bigger picture of who we are.
Having an identity or feeling real in what may seem fiction is an underlying theme expressed with Aza’s thought, “What was my part in this play? The Sidekick. I was Daisy’s Friend, or Ms. Holmes’s Daughter. I was somebody’s something” (Green 3). However, being seen for who you are makes a world of difference, even at a young age where everything seems to be falling apart around you – “(b)ecause we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe more intimate than eye contact anyway. Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see” (Green 9).
A quick and insightful read at a time where mental health is becoming more prevalent in our society, John Green does not disappoint!