By Jessica Keller
First things first, there is a tragic lack of turtles in this novel. It is important to share this sad news outright.
John Green’s novel, ‘Turtles All The Way Down‘ follows 16-year-old Aza whose life was never destined to follow the mystery of missing billionaire, Russell Pickett. However, with a substantial reward attached to it, Aza’s best friend, Daisy is interested and Aza falls head first into the investigation. While trying to be good in every aspect of her life, Aza is struggling with the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
It has been five-and-a-half years since Green’s last book was published, and the effort and thought put into this book is reflected by that length of time. This is another one of Green’s novels that will be sitting in your bookshop’s ‘Young Adult’ section but I can promise you now, it in no way reads like a teenager’s book. The characters are teens and their stories occur during high school but much like his other novels, Green does not dumb down his writing to suit that audience.
As soon as we are introduced to Aza nothing in her life is hidden from us. We are instantly brought into how her life is surrounded by anxiety-ridden thought spirals. Although these spirals get more and more difficult to read as the storyline progresses, it only highlights how this mental illness gets increasingly difficult to live with the longer it thrives.
Green’s past novels have covered difficult topics and Turtles All The Way Down is no exception. There is death, separation, and the questions of ‘life’ in its entirety. There is also the addition of usual Young Adult themes like friendship and love, but I promise you (and please trust me) they are not portrayed as a cliché in any way, shape or form. They link in tragically, but beautifully, with some unfortunate plot turns.
John Green’s novels always have a very striking underlying message, of which shines through brightly in Turtles All The Way Down. Similarly to the majority of teenagers around the world, Aza’s life is hard. She is already juggling the struggles of young adulthood, but mixing in mental health with this, everything seems multiplied by a thousandfold. With that being said, Green shares the message with his audience that although life may be bad right now, it will one day get better. Your day will come and you just have to go on, it is important to constantly remember this.
In recent years, mental health is becoming a more discussed topic, and this is a piece of literature that the world needed. Talking about mental health is what was required to teach unaware people what having a mental illness is like, and this is a book we needed to do just that. Please, run out and pick up your copy if you haven’t already.