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Looking For Alaska Hardcover – March 3, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 4,115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up - Sixteen-year-old Miles Halter's adolescence has been one long nonevent - no challenge, no girls, no mischief, and no real friends. Seeking what Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps," he leaves Florida for a boarding school in Birmingham, AL. His roommate, Chip, is a dirt-poor genius scholarship student with a Napoleon complex who lives to one-up the school's rich preppies. Chip's best friend is Alaska Young, with whom Miles and every other male in her orbit falls instantly in love. She is literate, articulate, and beautiful, and she exhibits a reckless combination of adventurous and self-destructive behavior. She and Chip teach Miles to drink, smoke, and plot elaborate pranks. Alaska's story unfolds in all-night bull sessions, and the depth of her unhappiness becomes obvious. Green's dialogue is crisp, especially between Miles and Chip. His descriptions and Miles's inner monologues can be philosophically dense, but are well within the comprehension of sensitive teen readers. The chapters of the novel are headed by a number of days "before" and "after" what readers surmise is Alaska's suicide. These placeholders sustain the mood of possibility and foreboding, and the story moves methodically to its ambiguous climax. The language and sexual situations are aptly and realistically drawn, but sophisticated in nature. Miles's narration is alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor, and his obvious struggle to tell the story truthfully adds to his believability. Like Phineas in John Knowles's A Separate Peace(S & S, 1960), Green draws Alaska so lovingly, in self-loathing darkness as well as energetic light, that readers mourn her loss along with her friends. - Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
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Review

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults Top 10
An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers
A 2005 Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Kirkus Best Book of 2005
A 2005 SLJ Best Book of the Year
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

"What sets this novel apart is the brilliant, insightful, suffering but enduring voice of Miles Halter." --Chicago Tribune

"Funny, sad, inspiring, and always compelling." --Bookpage

"Stunning conclusion . . . one worthy of a book this good." --Philadelphia Inquirer

"The spirit of Holden Caulfield lives on." --Kliatt

"What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice. Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent." Kirkus, starred review

"Miles’s narration is alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor, and his obvious struggle to tell the story truthfully adds to his believability. Like Phineas in John Knowles’s A Separate Peace, Green draws Alaska so lovingly, in self-loathing darkness as well as energetic light, that readers mourn her loss along with her friends." --SLJ, starred review

"...Miles is a witty narrator who manages to be credible as the overlooked kid, but he's also an articulate spokesperson for the legions of teen searching for life meaning (his taste for famous last words is a believable and entertaining quirk), and the Colonel's smarts, clannish loyalties, and relentlessly methodological approach to problems make him a true original....There's a certain recursive fitness here, since this is exactly the kind of book that makes kids like Miles certain that boarding school will bring them their destiny, but perceptive readers may also realize that their own lives await the discovery of meaning even as they vicariously experience Miles' quest." --Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

"Readers will only hope that this is not the last word from this promising new author." --Publishers Weekly

“John Green has written a powerful novel—one that plunges headlong into the labyrinth of life, love, and the mysteries of being human. This is a book that will touch your life, so don’t read it sitting down. Stand up, and take a step into the Great Perhaps.”
—K.L. Going, author of Fat Kid Rules the World, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books (March 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525475060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525475064
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

John Green is a New York Times bestselling author who has received numerous awards, including both the Printz Medal and a Printz Honor. John is also the cocreator (with his brother, Hank) of the popular video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which has been watched more than 30 million times by Nerdfighter fans all over the globe. John Green lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#20 in Books > Teens
#20 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...and read this book in one sitting. Okay, it's short and incredibly good, which makes it easy to bolt down. But then you are going to feel like an idiot for not savoring the pleasure, and you're going to be bleary as hell the next day (if you finish it at 4 in the morning, like I did).

This book deals with the Big Ones: suffering, loss, and grief, but it does so with such compassion and humor that the net impact is uplifting. Even the principal turns out to be a human being. There are no cardboard cut-out characters here.

Be aware that the kids in this story do what kids actually do (smoke, drink, and have sex). If that bothers you, read it anyway. There are more important things in life than observing proprieties and pretending that bright kids aren't exploratory. You don't have to approve of these characters. It is enough to love them and learn from them.
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Format: Hardcover
Somewhere between searching for the secret to winning at Texas Holdem in Doyle Brunson's SUPER SYSTEM II, A COURSE IN POWER POKER, and envying a 101 year old lady boat captain in Jimmy Buffett's A SALTY PIECE OF LAND, I found John Green's Young Adult Novel, LOOKING FOR ALASKA.

I kept looking at the alluring cover of ALASKA on my night stand and decided that POWER POKER could wait and rushed through A SALTY PIECE.

If you have a child going to boarding school soon, goes there now or has gone there, as my son did, you must read LOOKING FOR ALASKA. If you want to understand the loneliness, happiness, mischief, joy, sorrow, sadness and a few other emotions of a teenager, you must read LOOKING FOR ALASKA. If you are convinced your teenager will not mature until much later, you better not read ALASKA. If you are concerned about the experiences that your teenager might have, do not read ALASKA. If you are a teenager, read this book!

Need help with a pair of Aces? Simple - see Doyle. Got Margaritaville on your mind? No problem - Jimmy is your man. But if you want to come of age with an extraordinarily endearing group of kids, read this book.

My son tells me it is being touted as Young Adult Fiction. I don't know about that. I can only tell you that at 64, I am a younger man for having read it.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a Native Alaskan. My people have been in Alaska before it was called ALASKA. I was given Peter Jenkins book as an early holiday gift from my Uncle and wondered if he captured my people and all our people, of all groups, because almost no writers/travelers ever have.
He even found things I did not know about, like `mouse trading', from his Deering, Alaska chapter. Lines like this from the book lift me and illustrate his acute powers of perception, "Millie's voice is like a whisper but has incredible strength. I think the Eskimo way of speaking, soft, slow, focused, and songlike, comes from being listened to and from living surrounded by so much beautiful silence and life."
Actually he has been to many more places in this 590,000 square mile place than almost any Alaskan I have known. There is hilarious, witty stuff,, like this section title: "These Athletes Eat Raw Meat, Run Naked and Sleep in the Snow."
This is one white man that has a caring and discerning heart, this is by far, one of the best books on ALASKA I have ever read. We needed this kind of work here and I want to thank him for hearing my people, the Native Alaskans and all the rest of us, showing us as the alive and vivid world. Since graduating from UCLA I have yearned to be back in my homeland, for a few days reading LOOKING FOR ALASKA I have been.
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Format: Hardcover
"The odds are good, but the goods are odd."
When Peter shares this quote, heard by Alaskan women referring to the choice of available males, he encapsulates so much of the Alaskan spirit found within his book. From the humorous segments of "The Police Log" to the gripping drama of the 1200 mile Iditarod race, Peter Jenkins helps us find Alaska. In his easygoing style, he takes us behind the doors of everyday Alaskans, as well as some very influential ones, and lets us taste, smell, and feel the adventure of northern life. He also reveals the tedium, the loneliness, and the dangers.
At moments, I found myself awed by the grandeur and scope of this great state; at other times, I laughed out loud--in public, I might add--at Peter's candid storytelling. Who, after reading this, could forget the bachelor auction? Or the toe-numbing descriptions of the winter trail? Or the sorrowful Tina, as she struggles with her heritage and her future?
This is what Peter does so well: he tells great stories. I can almost imagine, as I read his books (all of which I've enjoyed), that he's telling me the accounts over a campfire. He comes across in an honest and unaffected manner. He wears his heart and his spirituality on his sleeve. He lets us see behind the facades of capitalistic life in America.
On the other hand, his writing is downright clunky at times. I have to force myself to "hear" him tell the story, as opposed to editing the numerous odd sentences and wasted words. In fact, I wish a thoughtful editor had waded through here sentence by sentence. At certain points, Peter jumps from past to past perfect tense to present perfect all in one paragraph. It's the way people talk, yes; however, for me, it was a constant distraction.
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