Tag Archives: John Green

Vlog Bro Writes Touching YA Novel

BookI’ll admit it. I read constantly, but like a glacier. I move slowly.

I do read, and I decided I would try, this year, to comment on the books that I manage to plow through. I just finished “Turtles All The Way Down” by John Green.

I was probably poised to like this book anyway. John Green is a YouTube star, and I’m a fan of his Vlog Brothers channel that he and his brother Hank maintain (Hank is a guiding light of another YouTube channel I enjoy, SciShow).

How was Turtles? It was a bit difficult for me to get into the book at first—it starts in the chaotic mind of Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old girl in a panic about whether she is really “she,” whether she has any agency in her own life. It’s not something I worry about much—but within a few chapters, the book did capture me.

Green himself has said the novel is meant to be a peek inside the mind of a person living with mental disease, specifically OCD, and I think that’s what started to click for me. As a reader, I felt I began to see the world, a bit, through Aza’s eyes—and the anxieties and insecurities of her troubled mind were well related.

She ends up eating hand sanitizer, an obviously crazy thing to do, but you can understand in context that she was moved to that point by thought spirals she could not control.


Art in tunnel at Mount Mercy University. Art in a tunnel is an idea in the book, and this particular image would work as cover art for this book.

I felt, in a way, the most sympathy for Aza’s mother, a math teacher trying to care for a teen daughter who was both deeply troubled and, as most teenagers are, secretive about what was going in her life.

In summary, I probably will pick up another John Green book. I appreciated his ability to make the interior life of a troubled girl seem real to a man on the cusp of old age.

So, for the first book of 2018, a definite “recommend it.” Pick up “Turtles All The Way Down” if you get a chance. And here is John talking about the theme of the book, what OCD means to his life:


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