John Green won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award for his debut novel “Looking for Alaska”. Several of his books have been best sellers and adapted into movies or series. “The fault in our stars” being the one that catapulted him to success.
Interestingly, “Looking For Alaska” is hugely inspired from the author’s time at Indian Springs School, yet it is a fiction.
“I came here looking for a Great Perhaps, for real friends and a more-than-minor life..”
The story begins when Miles Halter (Pudge) begins his life at a boarding school seeking his “Great Perhaps”. Obsessed with learning the last words of famous people, he befriends the Colonel, Alaska and Takumi and engages in activities quite contrary to his previous uninteresting of himself and life, indulging into alcohol, smoke, sex and wayward mischives. As he continues his great adventures, Miles finds himself in love with Alaska, a character quite different from him. But before he could “continue”, a series of events lead up to the moments that change their lives forever, and we find the characters trying to get out of their “labyrinths.”
A very simple and well written piece offers a reader bouts of laughter with its wit and makes them shed a tear here and there. Playing on the intricately knitted themes of grief, guilt, friendship, love, suffering, search of meaning and being in the present, it shows adolescents as humans trying to find their own way out and leaves you with a glimmer of hope.
Apart from the strong characters and plot that draw one to the story, the marking of chapters as “before x days” and “after x days” of the tragedy is intriguing.
Albeit a light read, “Looking for Alaska” is certainly going to stay with the reader for a long time, hopefully as a reminder of living and loving unconditionally through the labyrinth that is life.
New York : Speak, 2012
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