“Turtles All the Way Down” gives insight

“Turtles All the Way Down” is John Green’s latest novel aimed at the young adult audience. Despite its complicated issues being handled well, the book’s weak plot and somewhat poor writing at times may leave many readers wanting more.

This time, the story centres around a high-school student who has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Aza Holmes. Holmes is a remarkably likeable narrator who shows the audience a glimpse of what OCD looks like from within and from without. Holmes’ musings on what makes a person almost always circle around her intrusive thoughts, asking believable and interesting (and sometimes terrifying) questions.

Holmes grapples with the fear that she is not herself, playing host to a biome of microscopic organisms that she fears might overthrow her tenuous control as a person.

Not that she’s sure she has control, ever. Maybe she’s just a series of circumstances beyond her control. Is she ever really herself if she has to take a pill to be that? Are or aren’t her thoughts what make her, well, her?

Green masterfully handles these questions, poses them without presuming, and answers them without shoving it in the reader’s face, more like giving food for thought. It’s a particularly masterful way of handling the conversation on mental illness by raising awareness without being overbearing, and offering a silent sort of support.

However, Green’s signature brand of adolescent pretentiousness still shines through in the form of Davis Prickett: Orphan, billionaire and walking box of daddy issues. Prickett’s hobbies include looking at the sky while asking deep questions and writing bad poetry on the Internet.

He’s only fallen back harder on these hobbies harder since his dad’s mysterious disappearance, leaving him and his younger brother with loose ends. In order to find their father, they set a $100,000 reward on information that leads to finding him.

Together with Daisy, Aza’s best friend and caricature of a Tumblr fangirl, Pickett and Holmes drive the plot, which stumbles at times, but culminates in a believable and fitting end.

Watch as Aza struggles to cope with everyday life as she asks questions about the self and tries to manage interpersonal relationships and daily life, even when her concentration is invariably drawn inwards, towards her own intrusive thoughts.


Title: “Turtles All the Way Down”

Author: John Green

Release: Oct. 10

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars