Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre; Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: December 28th 2006
Date Read: May 10, 2015
Summary from goodreads:
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
Miles Halter, a sixteen year old with a passion for last words, has decided to leave his high school and home to find his Great Perhaps at a boarding school in Alabama. Upon arriving, he falls in with “the Colonel,” his roommate, Takumi, Lara, and Alaska. The group is an interesting blend of rebellious and studious, and it centers compulsively around Alaska, the epitome of the desirable, untouchable high school girl of myth and fantasy. The characters flirt, plan pranks, and cram for finals in a very ordinary teenage fashion. However, the book is divided into two sections: before and after. The first heading is “one hundred thirty six days before,” so you know that the book is building up to a Great Something.
For an unforgettable 128 days Miles learns life lessons in love, loyalty, friendship, Literature while having his first smoke, a few drinks, break school rules and pull some pranks as well as experience the thrill of a first girlfriend. When tragedy strikes Culver Creek, Miles is forced to undertake an even closer examination of his own character and relationship with his friends.
John Green deals with teens in a realistic and important way. The characters are well-developed, and their actions and decisions come across as genuine. Definitely flawed, the characters are still very human and forgivable. The sprinkling of famous last words and religious philosophy enhance the plot with precise dosages, rather than distract. Miles is a reliable and likeable narrator. No wonder this book won the Printz Award and would recommend it to young adults and adults alike.
You may think Miles found his Great Perhaps within himself. He had the courage to go to the boarding school in the first place; the courage to make new friends and love Alaska; and the courage to face difficulties and commit to relationships. The Great Perhaps is a destination but a journey. Perhaps teenagers passing through the trials of teenage hood to find who they are as adults make a search for that Great Perhaps. Miles, by the end of the book, has matured and found his way to the other side of that particular perhaps, ready for bigger challenges and unknowns. Alaska, on the other hand, didn’t find her Great Perhaps, but rather chose to seek out a different path, in search of a different unknown – a way out of the labyrinth.
“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”
– Looking for Alaska, John Green
The lesson you can learn from this book is that life is not easy, that’s why we should not give up. Even though we have problems, if we are smart enough to overcome it, everything will be alright. Don’t focus on too much negativity for it is the hindrance of someone to feel free, happy.
Looking for Alaska is a book that you read and never forget. A book so special that it makes you think in a different way – heartbreakingly sad at once while dealing with some of the big questions youth of today sometimes face. Beyond the high school drama, it is an inspiring work about life and death, about how someone’s life touches us and changes the way we see things, about overcoming suffering and loss, about the strong bond of friendship, and the choices we must inevitably make. It is about discovering who we are and who we can become as we walk upon this labyrinth we call life and why our last words may or may not define who we are as persons who seek, not far from Rabelais’s “The Great Perhaps,” but at least in our own little way, grand possibilities.
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