Looking for Alaska
by John Green
As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m going to highlight a few books that I’ve enjoyed reading even though they were a stretch outside my normal fare. But I chose them for their promise of being light and easy reads, but with enough meat to keep my interest sustained and my eyes from rolling.
It used to be that romance novels were my go-to for brain candy: summer reads, bored-on-weekend-reads, trying-to-get-through-a-long-flight reads, etc. And I did read a ton (I had a secret guilt stash hidden away in a cupboard in my apartment). But I pretty much only read Nora Roberts because any time I tried to branch out to a new author, I would go insane and hurl the books away because they actually included swooning. Or men picking the women up and throwing them over their shoulder. Or horrifically poor dialogue. No offense, but that’s not my fantasy. And I loved Nora Roberts for her smart, capable heroines and snappy dialogue, but after a while even her books got formulaic and dull.
With romance (as a genre) out the window, I still wanted to find something that makes me happy when I read it. Love, friendship, humor, and adventure, but with a little deeper soul searching too. Turns out literary YA novels totally fit the bill. This is probably not news to all of you, but it’s kind of a new revelation for me. Or a remembering anew. Something like that.
One of the first I started with was John Green’s Looking for Alaska. Green is a fairly new author and this one was his first published. It tells the story of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager in love with last words, who leaves home and goes away to boarding school – of his own volition! – because he is in search of “a Great Perhaps.” What a fantastic sentiment! And one I’ve totally adopted. He makes friends with rough and loyal Chip Martin and falls in love with sexy, edgy Alaska. They get into all sorts of school pranks, toeing the line between hilarity and disaster, until that edge gets so razor sharp it cuts…and nothing is the same again. And Miles must contemplate the great question of how to exit “this labyrinth of suffering,” and therein discover the true worth of love and a life lived unconditionally.
It’s funny and touching, and makes me think of all the things I really should have been doing in high school, if only I’d known what I know now. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then I think you might be a fan of John Green too.