Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green, was published in 2017.
The first sentence is: “At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time – between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M. – by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn’t even begin to identify them.”
The narrator is 16-year-old Aza Holmes.
As the story opens, Aza is having lunch in the school cafeteria with Mychal Turner and Daisy Ramirez. Mychal is The Artsy One. Daisy is Aza’s Best and Fearless Friend. Aza sees herself playing the role of The Sidekick.
Over lunch, Daisy points out that Aza once went to camp with Davis Pickett. Davis Pickett’s father, Russell Picket, is a billionaire, and a fugitive from justice. There’s a $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Daisy talks Aza into reuniting with Davis, in order to solve the Case of the Missing Billionaire, and collecting the reward. That’s the story that ties the other stories together. Turtles All the Way Down isn’t a mystery story, however.
Daisy Ramirez writes Star Wars fan-fiction. Turtles All the Way Down includes snippets of Daisy’s work.
Mychal would like to be more than just friends with Daisy.
Davis would like to be more than causal friends with Aza.
Aza Holmes gets caught in thought spirals, mostly involving the microbes in her body. Daisy, her Best and Fearless Friend, understands.
Aza Holmes has anxiety disorders. She gets by with the help of medications, her mother, Doctor Singh, and Daisy.
There’s a lot going on it this novel. It’s a story about friendship, understanding, loss, and privilege. It’s a positive story of good kids who obey the rules, do their homework, and try to do their best. It’s a story about a girl with mental illness trying to deal with all of this.
I absolutely loved this book. I loved it a lot. Turtles All the Way Down may have overtaken Paper Towns as my favorite John Green novel. It’s tragic and funny and weird and believable. The characters – all of them, even the Tua the tuatara – were interesting and fun to get to know.
Why I chose this book:
John Green is one of my favorite authors. When I learned, last October, that he’d published a new novel, I immediately put in a hold on Turtles All the Way Down at The Seattle Public Library. There were a little over 300 holds ahead of me.
I could have canceled my hold and bought it at a book store, but our bookshelves are already overflowing. So I waited. Besides, I had plenty to read in the meantime.
Then December arrived, and I saw that one of the categories for the 2018 Reading Challenge was “A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to”, I realized that Turtles All the Way Down fit this category pretty well.
Right about that time, I discovered that the book was sitting on the shelf at the Capitol Hill Library, among the “Peak Picks” books. (This is an awesome program The Seattle Public Library has in which copies of high demand books are set out on a first-come-first-served basis. These books cannot be placed on hold. They can be picked up only in person, and checked out for two weeks, with no renewals.)
I could have stopped into the library, checked the book out, and canceled my hold, but my position in line was down to 30-something, 2018 was just weeks away, and I had enough books lined up for the Challenge. There was plenty of time.
Then, right before the new year, the status on my hold changed to “In Transit”. It arrived during the first week of 2018. I really did think my hold would come in during 2017. I could have read it in 2017, but I just didn’t get around to it.