Looking for Alaska
by John Green

John Green's Looking for Alaska

Book review by Rosalyne Bowmile

Ages 15+

Life's changes

Miles (Pudge) Halter lives a non-eventful, quiet existence in Florida. Collector of last words, Miles longs to find the "great perhaps," the final words written by poet Francois Rabelais.

Now fifteen, Miles is ready for change and enrolls in Culver Creek boarding school, his father's alma mater. Opening the doors, he enters a new world, one in which his life will be forever changed.

He meets Alaska Young, a beautiful junior, who is a whirlwind of emotions: erratic, exciting and unpredictable.  Pudge finds himself sucked into her vortex, following her through her labyrinth maze of existence. He is not alone; his roommate, "The Colonel," and his friend, Takumi, are also pulled into her web. 

As the story unfolds, Pudge experiences many firsts: smoking, drinking, love and a sexual encounter.
Looking for Alaska is a powerful read, a fictional story that mirror's real life. Packing a wallop, it hits hard issues head on, showing how one's life impacts another. 

The teen years are a time of exploration, change, inner searching, and learning about one's self.  John Green, the author, showcases this beautifully throughout the book.

The characterizations are magnificent, each player with their own distinct personality.  Their strengths, weaknesses, highs and lows and daily struggles ring true throughout the story.  

Looking for Alaska has it all: humour, tragedy, raw honesty and love. It is written in two segments - before and after.  The story is not wrapped up in a pretty package. Questions are left unanswered, but in the end, the characters come to their own terms of acceptance. 

Looking for Alaska is an important literary read for teens.  Stories such as this help answer questions teens might have, but are unsure how to ask. Yes, there is undesirable behaviour, and the characters are not perfect, but who in life is?  

On a sad note, this book has been challenged due to its sexual content.  Some schools in the United States have removed it from their classrooms and curriculum.  

It is my feeling that we can't turn a blind eye to life and ignore what goes on around us. Don't we want to encourage our kids to read, especially boys? The story is written in first person, through the eyes of the male protagonist, Pudge.  

It's important as parents to discuss sensitive issues with our kids and prepare them for adulthood. To hide and ignore problems won't erase what is happening with teens in our society. 

John Green, the American author, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz award for Looking for Alaska

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