‘Turtles All The Way Down’: Too Many Shades, One Good Read

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Just when you think that you have lived enough protagonists to not be surprised when you come across another good novel and another engaging protagonist, ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ falls straight on your head to make you realize how wrong you were!  

A recently published novel by John Green, also the author of bestseller ‘Fault in Our Stars’‘Turtles All The Way Down’ isn’t for those who find happiness between the lines of the inked pages. Though not to say it is traumatizing, the novel sets you up with the anxiety-stricken, 16-years old protagonist Aza and puts you through each of her struggles to end up with a pinch of bitter-sweet happiness (the amount of which is subjective to how you weigh it).

What’s in those 286 pages (without many spoilers)?

The novel opens with three characters- Aza (the protagonist), her best-friend Daisy Ramirez and another friend (acquaintance) Mychal Turner in the cafeteria of White River High School, publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis. It is here that you first get to taste Aza’s anxiety disorder, which makes her cut open skin of her finger with her thumb-nail or makes her excessive fearful of a bacteria C.diff (Clostridium difficile). As a reader, you might question whether those first few pages will lead you to an average storyline, but have patience and push past it until you reach the point where Aza meets her old friend Davis, who is also the elder son of Russell Pickett, a fugitive CEO Aza and Daisy are trying to locate.

The massive Pickett estate gives you a good vibe but just when you step into the feet of Davis and his younger brother Noah, you realize how no one is ever too rich to not need anything. Davis for instance, needs to feel loved again while her brother needs his father back. 

The successive chapters turn to Aza’s growing anxiety, the straining friendship between Aza and Daisy, and their love-interests. The way John Green describes all of it is beautiful, using poetry and quotes to complement the situation wherever required. Take it to realize the brain-functioning of someone suffering from mental issues; how saying that “it’s okay”, or “it’s all in your head” doesn’t help because getting to choose ‘those’ thoughts isn’t a choice they have. You also see how friendship isn’t always bed of roses, but then you also can’t complain because you signed up for it. The best part about it is that since it is supposed to be a detective novel (well, partially), it isn’t a slow read. It is not preach-y and all these learnings happen quickly, keeping you always on your toes. 

These 286 pages end with Aza setting her friendship right with Daisy and unintentionally solving the mystery of fugitive CEO. While for her love-interest David, you don’t get everything you wish for, at least not to keep for as long as you wish. 

Who Should Give it a Read?

Though not a religious determiner, here are some points which will help you determine whether to give it a read.

Give it a read if,

  • Emotional pain of the character makes you go teary (which you actually like because it makes you feel connected with the character).
  • You don’t mind a relaxed writing style. 
  • You like references to literary works or don’t mind references to biology, or if you are someone who is into detective novels. 

Do not give it a read if,

  • You like paced-up detective novels. This IS a detective novel, but only partially. You will lose interest midway, when Aza and Daisy leave the idea of finding Russell Pickett.
  • You get depressed with ‘bitter-sweet’ endings, the ones where your get separated from your love-interest but you live with the memories for the rest of your life. Or the ones that are on your interpretation, so that’s uncertainty following it.

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About the Author:

Saundharaya Khanna (MCM DAV 36)

A writer by choice, I find solace in classics, music and paintings. I believe that writing can speak louder than actions and so it has been the driving force ever since.

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