05 April 2013

Looking for Alaska

Somewhere between my sobs over the Lizzie Bennet Diaries ending and tumblr exploding with feels, I found John Green. 

That isn't entirely true, but it's true enough for this story. 

His newest book, The Fault in our Stars, had just come out and the interwebs were full of everything tfios, LBD and John Green. 

Fine I said. Fine. Let me find out for myself what this John Green fellow is all about. I took home Looking for Alaska and my life changed. 

I hate you, John Green. But. Of course when I say "I hate you" what I really mean is "thank you." Thank you for putting love, hate, pain, forgiveness, hilarity, the good, the bad and the horribly ugly, and gut wrenching grief into understandable words. Sometimes those emotions (love, hate, grief, etc) can only be expressed with smiles that break your face, clenched fists or silent tears down your face. Somehow (I think magic was involved, you Hufflepuff) you were able to translate the truth of messy emotion.

I read Looking for Alaska like I would any other young adult novel. Just picked it up and dove in. I loved it. Loved it. The characters, the antics, the school, the pranks. Miles Halter doesn't fit in. Anywhere. He has zero friends at his school and he finally decided to do something about it. He decides to enroll in the boarding school his father went to and sets off to search for the Great Perhaps. Even if he's not so sure what that entails, it is what he has decided to do. Shortly after arriving at Culver Creek Boarding School, he meets his roommate, gets a nickname and falls in love. Hard. Her name is Alaska Young and she is a force to be reckoned with. 

I loved it so much that I paid no attention to the days that were passing or the pages that brought me closer to "After." When I finally came to "After" my days caught up with me. And I cried. I cried so hard I had to close the book and just exist with my tears. I couldn't read it for days after that. I was too afraid that the words would pick at the scar my pain had left, reopening something I was trying to let heal. Maybe not quite a week later I thought it would be okay to pick it up again. It wasn't. But even through the pain and the tears I was reminded why it was all okay.Because, as C. S. Lewis said, we read to know we are not alone. Someone else understood the pain of loss. Someone else knew what it was like to realize your memory of a person was fading, and that that realization brought a completely different wave of grief. 

Sorry for the overly emotional response to this book. Even if I hadn't been dealing with something personal, this book still would have struck a chord with my emotions. It's not just the content; it's the style. John Green has an incredible storytelling gift. He has a certain way of drawing you in through fiction, connecting with you on a real level and then releases you with words of wisdom that you realize aren't just for the story; they are for you, the reader, to take home with you and think about. Find truth in and incorporate into the way you view life. Just like the gem he left at the end of Looking for Alaska: The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

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