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Book Review - Looking For Alaska

Book Review - Looking For Alaska

Going to school often tends to be a different experience for each person. Whether you were home-schooled, or attended a public or private school, chances are, your classmates experienced something entirely different. Home-schooled children may share their experiences with someone else who was home-schooled, but they may have completely different feelings about it. For example, a lot of high school graduates will say that the four years they spent at their high school were the best they’ve ever had, and wish they could go back and relive it. Others, however, may be asked how they’d feel about returning to their high school and they might say, “Not a chance!” Admittedly, I fall into the latter category.

This ideology holds true for the students in John Green’s novel, Looking for Alaska. The book primarily takes place at the Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama. There are three main characters in the novel, Miles “Pudge” Halter, Chip “The Colonel” Martin, and Alaska Young. Coming into school, these kids were entirely different. Miles was a quiet boy who never misbehaved, and was following in his father’s footsteps by attending the Culver Creek boarding school. Alaska is an adventurous and free-spirited young woman who introduces her new friends to her rebellious ways. Chip comes from a low-income home and he dreams of giving his mother a better life. There is also a group of students at Culver Creek which has been nicknamed, “The Weekday Warriors.” This name was given to the popular, rich students of the boarding school.

I feel as though many students can relate to these three characters. Essentially, they represent three of the main archetypes of most teenagers, as well as a fourth being represented by the Weekday Warriors. Alaska is rebellious, Miles is a hard-working introvert, and Chip is a poor boy working toward a better life. Despite how different these kids may be, they became very close.

I’ve found that this often happens as we grow older - especially for college-age students. In high school, people tend to be very cliquey, and making new friends often presents itself as challenging, if not impossible. In college, however, you might make friends with people in your major, because you know you have similar interests even though you might really be very different people. As we grow older, we begin to embrace the differences we all have rather than shying away from them. In Looking for Alaska, three very different students learned the importance of friendship as well as the ups-and-downs that come with it. Arguments arise due to their conflicting personalities, though overall their differences are what make them fit together so well.

Aside from the relatability to the characters in Green’s novel, one of the main things I enjoyed about this book was the way it makes readers feel a bit nostalgic. These students are around high-school age, attending the boarding school with hopes of getting into good colleges. The main characters of the novel often have to lie to the principal (nicknamed, The Eagle) in order to sneak away, which parallels the way in which many kids will often lie to their parents in order to go somewhere or do something they know their parents wouldn’t approve of. There were also bits of nostalgia I didn’t particularly like to experience, primarily the death of Alaska Young. If you’ve ever experienced the death of a friend, loved-one, or maybe even someone you know, then I’m sure I don’t need to explain why I didn’t enjoy the feelings and memories that came to me while reading about Alaska’s death. Despite the dismal feelings you can get from reading books or watching shows that remind you of sad times, I still find them to be interesting to read.

Looking for Alaska was overall an intense and insightful book. The professors at Culver Creek boarding school had interesting lectures, even though one wouldn’t really expect reading about another student’s classes to be. In fact, many schools across the country have begun incorporating Looking for Alaska into their classes as it is rife with symbolism, themes, and has a highly thought-provoking nature.

I believe that reading is essential to broadening one’s mind, and this book is certainly one that I would recommend. I hardly expected this book to be as thought-provoking and engaging as it was. I’m certainly glad I read it and I highly recommend the novel to anyone looking for a compelling novel for their next read.

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