Book Review by Aarene Storms: Turtles All the Way Down

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green

16-year-old Aza has a problem. It's not school -- she gets good grades. It's not friends -- her best friend Daisy is the Best and Most Fearless Friend Ever. It isn't money --though Aza's family isn't rich, they have enough for food, housing, transportation, and relatively up-to-date technology. It's not even her mom -- though her mom doesn't always understand Aza, she definitely loves her daughter.

Aza's problem is her mind: sometimes she can control her anxieties, but sometimes the worries spiral in tighter and tighter until Aza is almost strangled by them.

When Aza and Daisy decide to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a friend's dad (who happens to be a billionaire), nothing goes according to plan. Aza wants to be involved closely with Davis, but every time they kiss, her anxiety kicks into high gear.

This is not a simple book to read. Aza's intrusive thoughts are nearly crippling at times, and those who love her aren't having much fun either.  But, as storyteller/author Elizabeth Ellis observed in her book Inviting the Wolf In:
"Perhaps that is the greatest disrespect we can pay anyone: 
to be unwilling to look at their pain.  
If they could live it, I could look at it.  
Perhaps it was the very least I could do."
Author John Green didn't just research obsessive compulsive disorder in order to write this book; rather, he lives with it. His expertise, painfully acquired, shines through. It's painful to read, but not nearly as painful as it is to live. The least we can do is to look, and learn.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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