Looking for Alaska

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Book Blog: Looking for Alaska

Book:

John Green. Looking for Alaska.  New York: Speak, and Imprint of Penguin Group, 2005.

Genre:

Realistic Fiction

Summary:

Miles Halter is a shy boy who has an obsession with last words. He is going to Culver Creek Boarding School where he will soon experience the most life-changing year of his life. He soon meets a beautiful girl, named Alaska Young who drags him into her dark life and refuses to let go. She is sexy, smart, and tempting; Miles or anyone else just can not tell her “No”. Colonel, Miles roommate soon becomes his best friends and leader of the group. They pay no attention to the rules and intend on puling the best prank possible. Until one day, everything they once know as truth, came crashing to a halt. This novel makes you ask yourself, “How will you ever get our of this Labyrinth of suffering?”

Themes:

Looking for Alaska, is a coming of age novel. Miles experiences many “firsts” during his year at Culver Creek. He masters the essence of smoking, learns how to disguise cigarette smoke, bury liquor, and enquires the fine are of “hooking up.” Miles also get to experience what it feels like to be accepted, to know how important it is to be loyal to those who have his back. Most of all, he finds people who are truly his friend and love and care for him. Going away to school gives him a new sense of independence and the freedom to make his own life choices. His love life and school work both sore during the first school year. He finds himself surrounded by others who are as intelligent as he is and learns things from them as well.

Spoiler Alert!

Another prominent theme in this novel is death and loss. During the semester “Pudge” has a religion class that forces him to understand and dissect the beliefs of other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Alaska always ask Simon Bolivars question of “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” Pudge found himself trying to understand that questions when Alaska tragically dies in a car crash late one night after they all had been drinking. Was her death an accident or suicide? She has left made and he should have stopped her. He blamed himself. What happens now? His beliefs are immediately put into question. Is Alaska simply gone? Body left to rot? Or is there something greater that he will never understand. After Alaska’s death Pudge and Colonel set off on an investigation to try and find our what truly set Alaska off and why she was so upset after the phone call on the night that she left. Miles leave Culver Creek with a greater understanding of the world, himself, and the importance of forgiveness.

Connections:

John Greens novel has been net with a lot of controversy. The topics of smoking, drinking, sex, and religion easily place this novel on the list of banned books at many schools. This novel brings to the forefront the reality of what can happen from one “fun” night of partying. Green allows for connections to be made with students and characters in his book. Many high school students have probably been at parties where someone leaves the party drunk and upset. They will be able to empathize with Miles when he finds out Alaska was killed in a car accident. This brings up the perfect opportunity to have the discussion about what to do in a situation like this and how to contact someone who could help. Not only does the way Alaska dies call for a discussion but also the fact that she is gone and they had lost someone they loved and cared about. Miles talks about how he struggled with denial at first, them anger, but mostly guilty in the end. He life could have been saved if he and the others hadn’t been afraid to stop her. Students today feel the same way and will benefit in talking about how to handle cases like that because most likely at some point they will find themselves in a similar situation.

Reactions:

I was extremely moved by this novel. I loved the format, the way in which it built up to her death while he developed them as characters and defined their relationships with each other. I appreciated the honest way he approached the topic and allowed us to see how Alaska affected everyone individually. This novel hit home to be because I lost my best friend in 2009 to a car accident where alcohol was involved. This story is too common. These incidents are preventable and I can identity with Miles. I too blamed myself for a long time. I was finally able to forgive her and myself for not being there for her. I was surprised when Miles and I both came to the same conclusion: forgiveness. It is the only way one can let go, move on, and enjoy the short time they were about to spend together.

Reception:

Looking for Alaska, has earned rave reviews. Critics appreciate John Green’s bravery to discuss and expose truths that many authors tent to avoid. He attacks the issues with confidence and insightfulness. Common Sense says, “There is nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) gratuitous in this book. Everything in it serves to define character, give style to voice, and develop theme.”  Green places everything intentionally and it serves a purpose to the overall theme of the book.  Goodreads.com gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars and says it is a necessary book for both parents and kids to read.

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About kjnorman

English Education Major Psychology Minor I would love to teach high school English. I am 22 years old and commute to WIU from Galesburg, IL.
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One Response to Looking for Alaska

  1. Kayla, I knew you’d like the book. I’m glad you found it something you could relate to on a personal level and found Green’s depiction of the characters and events to be realistic. I’m glad you brought up the “firsts” throughout the novel. Green always does a good job of being able to really tap into teen life and experiences.

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