This is my first book for the Dewey's Books Challenge. And such an appropriate start to the challenge it is. The story:
1. I bought this book a while back because of Dewey's review. (Oh my goodness, there are so many, many books I can say that about!)
2. The book ended up buried in the TBR piles as more and more books poured into the house.
3. Nymeth wrote this incredible review, which caused me to dig the book out of the piles and put it on my nightstand. (This is supposed to ensure that I will get to a book soon. However, it doesn't really work.)
4. As Nymeth and I spent many hours sharing our shock and grief during the week following Dewey's death, she suggested it might be a good time for me to read this book. That's where things maybe get a bit too personal, and not appropriate for a book review. But suffice it to say, that Nymeth's suggestion was a very special gift. Because it is a very special book. And it will always remind me of the very special friend we lost when Dewey passed away.
So, what's so special about this book anyway? Where do you even start with a question like that? I think I loved everything about it. I didn't make a "top reads of 2008" list, but if I had, this surely would have made the top 3.
Yes, I now understand what Dewey and Nymeth and so many other people love about John Green. This guy can write! I wish so much he'd been out there writing when I was in my teen years. Because he "gets" teenagers. It is so evident in his writing that he likes teens and he respects teens.
The characters in Looking for Alaska are so authentic. In fact, if I had to choose one word to describe everything about this book, I think "authentic" would be it. But who are these characters, and what is the book even about? The story is told by Miles Halter. A high school kid from Florida. It's not that he's picked on, or singled out, but he doesn't really have any friends either. He decides to head off to the private school in Alabama that his dad once attended. He goes in search of what he calls the "Great Perhaps."
And what he finds is a place to belong. This place is with his new friends, Chip (the Colonel), Takumi, and the irresistible Alaska Young. Some might label them "the wrong crowd," but they are definitely the right crowd for Miles. With these new friends, Miles is able to accept himself, to grow, to discover what's important in life. And to struggle with the unfairness that is a part of living in this world. This is a story of friendship, of finding one's place.
It is hilarious, and it is heartbreaking. It is one very emotional read. And there is so much to this story that I just don't want to mention, because if you haven't read it, you need to discover it all for yourself.
I know I'm simply not talented at the art of book review. And it seems I do the worst job on the books I love the most. So, instead of trying to say any more, I'm just going to leave off with a few of the myriad of passages I marked in this jewel of a book.
I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.
It as not an eventful day. I should have done extraordinary things. I should have sucked the marrow out of life. But on that day, I slept eighteen hours out of a possible twenty-four.
And so we gave up. I'd finally had enough of chasing after a ghost who did not want to be discovered. We'd failed, maybe, but some mysteries aren't meant to be solved. I still did not know her as I wanted to, but I never could. She made it impossible for me.
Before I sign off here, I just want to say thank you to Chris and Robin for hosting the Dewey's Books Challenge. It means so much to so many people.