What’s with the Turtles, Anyway?

Poetry and prose combine beautifully in this story to tell a tale of almost star-crossed almost lovers who want nothing but to be the best of themselves for themselves and for each other. It’s about learning what happens when you lose a parent, and what happens when maybe the parent that you do have is so distant that it’s basically the same as not having one at all. And about not pushing what you do have left away.

As with many of John Green’s novels, I went into this book expecting to like it. What I wasn’t expecting was to be so completely engulfed by the never-ending spiral that is Aza Holmes. Her anxiety and ever-present intrusive thoughts are well-represented in a world where so much of the idea of anxiety is romanticized. This novel doesn’t do that. It doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh realities of anxiety disorders, and the honest rawness with which Aza is described helps to bring her story full circle in the end. What’s more, Davis Pickett and Aza’s almost-romance is bittersweet and heartbreaking, but also necessary. It showcases that sometimes, even when everything goes “right”, relationships may not always be the best thing.

Who knew that a book whose synopsis details the plan of two teenage girls to get rich quick would evolve into this? Certainly not me, but I’m glad that it did. Not only is the book story-driven instead of plot-driven, it shows a real world in which anxiety takes a toll on everyone: friends, family, and even strangers. This novel was a good reminder as an anxious person to step back and look at what I might seem like from the outside.

Without giving away the meaning of the title of the book, the concept of turtles all the way down fits perfectly into the concept of a spiral, where there is no beginning and no end. There are only turtles.

This book ends just short of giving us the ending that we want and that we’re looking for, but ends in just the right place for the story. John Green uses his always apropos style to engage us and put us in the shoes of Aza, Daisy, Davis, and Noah in a way that hurts as much as heals our hearts.

And then at the end of it, we have to say goodbye. But as Green reminds us, “no one ever says good-bye unless they want to see you again.”

This is a book, along with the rest of my John Green collection, that I’ll read and reread until the spine falls apart. And probably more after that, too. It gets 9/10 and I think that this book would be an amazing read for young adults and adult adults alike.

For now, we say goodbye to Aza’s world, and say hello to Natalie D. Richards’s One was Lost.

Til then,

x FG