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Looking for Alaska Paperback – December 28, 2006
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Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award • A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist • A New York Times Bestseller • A USA Today Bestseller • NPR’s Top Ten Best-Ever Teen Novels • TIME magazine’s 100 Best Young Adult Novels of All Time • A PBS Great American Read Selection • Millions of copies sold!
First drink. First prank. First friend. First love.
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green’s arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction.
Newly updated edition includes a brand-new Readers' Guide featuring a Q&A with author John Green
"The Last Day of Kindergarten" by Nancy Loewen
A little girl is sad that kindergarten is coming to an end. She wishes it were the first day again, when everything was exciting and new and there was such a fun year ahead. But then she realizes that graduating is exciting, too, and maybe first grade won’t be so bad, after all! | Learn more
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From the Publisher
|The Anthropocene Reviewed||Turtles All the Way Down||The Fault in Our Stars||Looking for Alaska||Paper Towns||An Abundance of Katherines|
|John Green’s nonfiction debut is a masterful and deeply moving collection of personal essays about falling in love with the world. “The perfect book for right now.”||Aza is living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. Told with shattering, unflinching clarity, this is a brilliant exploration of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.||“The greatest romance story of this decade.” Hazel and Augustus meet at support group for teens with cancer.||Last words and first loves at boarding school. John Green’s award-winning, genre-defining debut.||Winner of the Edgar Award. Margo summons Q for an ingenious night of revenge. When the new day breaks, Margo has disappeared. But there are clues—and they’re for Q.||An ingeniously layered comic novel about love, friendship, mathematical theorems, and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.|
|John Green: The Complete Collection Box Set|
|The deluxe 5-book set is the definitive collection of John Green’s critically acclaimed fiction.|
Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
A New York Times Bestseller • A USA Today Bestseller
NPR’s Top Ten Best-Ever Teen Novels
TIME magazine’s 100 Best Young Adult Novels of All Time
A PBS Great American Read Selection
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Top 10 • An ALA Quick Pick • A Booklist Editors’ Choice selection • A Kirkus Best Book of the Year • An SLJ Best Book of the Year • A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best • 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
“Looking For Alaska is a showcase to the raw talent John Green has, the kind of talent that can make you close the crisp last page of a novel and come out as a different person....
A gem of modern literature." —Guardian
★ “What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice.” —Kirkus
★ “Alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor.” —SLJ
“Funny, sad, inspiring, and always compelling.” —Bookpage
“The spirit of Holden Caulfield lives on.” —Kliatt
“Stunning conclusion . . . one worthy of a book this good.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 28, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 221 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0142402516
- ISBN-13 : 978-0142402511
- Reading age : 14 years and up
- Lexile measure : 850L
- Grade level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #151 in Teen & Young Adult Romance
- #2,144 in Contemporary Romance (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2023
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Top reviews from the United States
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First off, John Green’s characters were well constructed in terms of the tight knit circle of freinds who were there for each other, going through many of the issues of belonging, where do I fit in, etc, of the teenage angst many go through. Much of this book made me think of the more recent pain my daughter went through in high school, which was brutal at times. But, these are timeless issues, and it was easy to think back to my own issues many years ago. Alaska Young, the main character, was very well written. She was beautiful, funny, smart, well liked (to a point), but there were moody, unpredictable sides of her that were hard to understand (which is very true of depression and mental healt issues). Our storyteller Pudge, is smitten with her, as most guys her age would be. And they become best friends. But, there is The Colonel, Pudge’s roommate, funny, smart, with a huge chip on his shoulder for rich and priveledged kids their age. He is likeable and very smart, as well. He has also known Alaska for several years and knows how moody and capricious she can be. Other members of their group take in Takumi and Lara. As the story shows the fitting in issues, Alaska is a character it’s so easy to like. She’s full of life, brightens up the room with her smile and coquettish behavior, but, what’s also likeable, she is always clear with anyone that she has a boyfriend she adores.
Two main themes throughout the narrative is that Pudge is driven by a quote he read, that is now directing his life, which states
“I go seek a Great Perhaps.” He is looking for more. Alaska is obsessed with something she read in a novel talking about the struggle of life, which states, “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” As the story continues, you realize that Alaska flies off the handle, suddenly withdraws from everyone, and no one can understand this side of her. Most of all Pudge. One of Pudge’s and Alaska’s classes together is religion and philosophy. This is a great tool used by the the author to confront many of the issues unfolding.
To get to the point, as you see Alaska boldly act brazenly at times, impetuously, and take blame before a panel that caught them all smoking, and other things along these lines, her behavior seems at times self destructive. She drinks a lot and even makes a comment to her friends, when asked why she chain smokes at times, inhaling so hard, she says she does it to kill herself. Green does a great job making her complex in ways that people with mental health issues are really complex. They can be hard to understand and unpredictable. And this is Alaska.
There is a point in the book, when they are all drinking heavily, and Alaska suggest they play a drinking game and tell their best day ever, and their worst day ever. They’re all very drunk. And Alaska admits that when she was a little girl, her mother died of an aneurysm right in front of her, and she had didn’t know what to do, but just sat with her waiting for her to wake up. And when her father came home he made it clear that it was her fault her mother died. Why didn’t she call 911? And so on. We find out Alaska is a tortured person and can’t break free of it. Needless to say, later in the story, while all drinking, Alaska gets a phone call in the middle of the night from her boyfriend. No one knows what’s said, but she is horribly distraught and crying uncontrollable, and she has to leave, has to get out, and she tears off and she dies that night. And the big question is was it suicide? And of course, her friends helped her leave because she “had to” so badly. And now they are tortured by the reality that they could have stopped her.
The kinds of questioning and guilt Green discribes is so astute and tears at your heart if you have ever suffered real loss of a loved one, especially if it was from suicide or under tragic circumstances. The Religion class resurfaces as it turns out Alaska had written her final essay paper on “How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?” The teacher, who admired Alaska, and in helping students cope, he puts her question on the blackboard, and he turns her question into an essay question for them final exam for everyone to grapple with. This was a clever device in the story as Pudge comes to grips, and we as the readers try to understand the seemingly senseless loss. The Pudge’s essay answer is a wonderful wrap up to the story. He uses things they learned from Buddhism to state things like, all things that come together will fall apart, and all things are interconnected, so that the loss of Alaska, she isn’t truly lost. “Maybe she was just matter, and matter gets recycled.” But, Pudge also realizes that even as sad and tragic as Alaska’s life was, it didn’t have to end that way. Pudge writes, “Awful things are survivable,” and he wishes he could have told Alaska that. And that we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be.
Though Miles "Pudge" Halter is a somewhat more appealing coming of age narrator than the boring Holden Caulfield, I was, as both high school English teacher and parent of a son and daughter, more than a little shocked by the gallons of alcohol and countless number of cigarettes smoked by the charismatic, but self-destructive Alaska and her prank-obsessed clique at the Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama.
Would I want my own son and daughter reading this novel?
Should I timidly place Green's award-winning book on the overcrowded, independent reading bookshelf in my classroom and risk being chewed out by an outraged parent, dragged before the school board, and fired? (Fired being the modern day equivalent of the state approved poisoning of Socrates by the powers that be/were for corrupting the minds and morals of Athenian youth)
I have taught at both public and prep schools, secular and religious, in big city and small. More than anything I hope to inspire my students to be--well, life-long readers who are book crazy, who get deeply and deliriously moved by what the characters in books DO and choose NOT TO DO, thinking and feeling deeply, so they can become--and I know this sounds corny--better people and wiser citizens of Planet Teen. (I hereby amend Sartre's definition of existentialism: "We are what we do" to "We are what we don't do") when it comes to the big and small matters of the heart.
The writer part of me thinks that Green's "famous last words" is a gimmick, but the reader part of me was deeply moved and truly enjoyed discovering the last words of Tom Edison and others.
In today's hurly burly society with digital gadgets galore, reading is one of the last few places where a young adult gets time to THINK. And teens will think when they read "Looking for Alaska". No parent wants his or her teen to get into a car drunk. Every parent hopes that if the teen does, true friends will arm wrestle the keys away, if necessary, because drunk driving has tragic consequences; and yes, we are all responsible for one another--especially the teen bystander who has the most power to help a friend in need.
The "before" and "after" structure of Green's inventive novel, gives teen readers space to think about the life and death choices they make and cannot unmake. There's a lot of talk in high schools about consequences and teen's taking responsibility for their choices. In fiction, students get to live many lives, walk in the shoes of teens who are alike and different from them, and hopefully become more discerning, more compassionate. More. Few of us will become as rich or as successful as John Green. But all of us have a chance to be that Good Samaritan, the one who makes the difference in somebody else's life among our own circle of friends.
So, despite the vulgarity, despite the wholly offensive oral sex scene which the Catholic mother in me wants rip out (my heart aches for Lara), I reservedly praise this controversial novel. Because I think, I hope what John Green is trying to do, besides earn money as an author, is tell a good and perhaps even wise story that encourages teens to press the pause button, to stop and reflect on what happens after you have clumsy, unromantic sex, and the boy dumps you, to think about how your behavior may or may not be enabling what may very well become a lifelong addiction for another, more vulnerable human being. Readers of LFA will discover what goes terribly awry when unresolved grief eats away at you, discover what is it like to be the nerd, the trailer trash scholarship geek, the rich preppie, and the desperately seeking bipolar alcoholic who though pretty and smart is profoundly unhappy.
My favorite character was the Old Man, the old-fashioned religious philosophy teacher. But, there was a character missing in this novel--the guidance counselor, that caring adult, a teacher or janitor somebody grown-up who would have discerned how lost and on the edge Alaska was, and helped her heal from the guilt surrounding the death of her mother. Unlike Margot Roth Spiegelman in "Paper Towns", I found Alaska Young to be a deeply sympathetic, dangerous character who betrays her roommate, Lara, and Miles. In many ways, this is a very ethical book. Miles goes the distance is looking, not just for Alaska and the Great Perhaps of whether she committed suicide or not, he goes the spiritual miles of looking for forgiveness, a very Christian idea.
BTW, my own nephew, the irreplaceable and wholly awesome Mark Jr, was killed by a drunk teen driver, when he himself was just a teen. By some fault in the stars, I read "Looking for Alaska" near the anniversary of Mark Jr.'s death.
I give "Looking for Alaska" four stars, minus one for the obvious parental reasons. I would consider teaching it in a community college freshman class, but nope, not high school,even thought it has all the hot button topics that need to be discussed in the high school classroom.
I reserve five stars for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' sublime "The Yearling" and Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women". They sure don't write YA novels like they use to. And that is truly a shame. A coda to best selling and immensely talented YA author, John Green: "less is more" when it comes to all things vulgar in YA novels. You do, as an artist, have a responsibility to your impressionable YA readers and our culture at large to uplift both. Yes, I know: "Romeo and Juliet" has vulgar language and bawdy scenes too, but I won't get fired for teaching Shakespeare. This novel is not representative of the "average" American teen; it is a rich white boy's lament, which is why it fails--like the "Knock, Knock" joke.
Top reviews from other countries
Miles Halter is the main protagonist of the story who lives in Florida. He is not a social person and is in search of his “Great Perhaps”. So Miles decides to attend the Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama to start a fresh life. There he makes his first friend Chip, known as “the Colonel” by all. He nicknamed Miles as “Pudge” and called him with the same name throughout the book. The Colonel introduces him to his friend, Alaska, who was a fierce and mysterious girl. Miles instantly falls in love with her. All of them are then involves in various pranks and mishappenings and then BAM! There is the unexpected mid-way surprise. I am not telling what that middle thing is (for the sake of spoilers) but that event divides the book into two part. One Before and one After that event.
The Before part is filled with a lot of high school events, the building of relations, the pranks that student plays and all. Yes, the typical high-school environment has been explained. The After part describes what happens after that tragic event, how the truth unfolds and how the lives of everyone involved changes. The Before part is kind of happier while the After is the one with lots of sorrow and heartbreak.
The best thing about Looking for Alaska is that it doesn’t feel like it’s a debut novel of John Green. It has so much more hidden things to say then the words can explain. John green has definitely shown his best raw talent in this and proving that you can literally emerge like a different person after you finish his book. It is a gripping tale. It is not a typical boy-meets-girl-falls-in-love-then-separate kind of story. It is a tale of true friendship, the effect of love, the longing for survival, the void in a relationship.
The story is more about Miles then about Alaska (as the title may confuse). The center point for both of them is looking for “labyrinth". I actually didn’t know about this word at the beginning but then it was used so many times in the book that it made itself clear. A unique thing that John Green has put as the hobby of Miles is “remembering the last lines of famous persons". I was like, why would anyone like to remember that? But surely, after reading many such sentences in the book it surely made me interested in those last lines.
"Thomas Edison’s last words were “It’s very beautiful over there”. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.” "
The only problem that I had with this story was its ending. I felt like cheated. No seriously I wanted it to end correctly and to know the truth. But I think, the valid point in its favour can be that John wanted to think the readers about it?
All the characters that are mentioned feel like in real life. There are no cheesy ones, not even Alaska (though girls are generally shown as cheesy). I liked how the character of Alaska was made mysterious. And the fact is we often come across such characters in our lives too, who are mysterious in their own ways. The writing was typical John Green style – easy and flowing. And the best things is the beautiful quotes that he writes, which always make me love his work more.
"I may die young, but at least I’ll die smart. "
This story clearly reminded me of many things that were long forgotten. One such thing is the use of “Yellow Pages”. DO you remember this service? I used to use it like 6-7 years ago? There were other events too which clearly reminded that I am reading it little bit late 😛
Looking for Alaska is another fantastic book by John Green. It is funny and heartbreaking at the same time. This gives you new directions and point of thinking. If you love John Green then you should definitely read this.
"If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane."
The themes of love, loss, and the search for meaning are explored in a deeply profound and thought-provoking way. Throughout the book, the characters grapple with issues of identity, relationships, and the ways in which we cope with grief. These themes are woven seamlessly into the compelling narrative, making for a truly immersive and impactful reading experience. The writing is beautiful and evocative. John Green's prose is lyrical, and he has a knack for capturing the emotions and experiences of adolescence in a way that is raw and honest to nature. His writing will transport you into the world of the story and keep you enriched from start to finish. Overall, I highly recommend "Looking for Alaska"
The book doesn’t have chapter numbers which really bothered me, the chapter titles are a countdown to a date or event though which I found intriguing. The characters were well described, not so much their features but their personalities. The best thing about this book is how real it is. The characters, conversations, experiences were all fitting of a group of 16-17 years olds at schools. The thoughts, feelings and reactions were very realistic and I bought into the story very easily because if it and became invested. There was only once when a teachers reaction to a prank didn’t quite ring true and it stood out because it was the only part of the book that didn’t feel genuine.
Overall a great book which would be especially enjoyed by fans of YA coming of age stories. Will certainly be reading more by this author
I have purposely not mentioned anything that happens in the book, for I would not want to ruin it for anyone looking to read it. As a rule I only read a book once, never more. However, this one will keep a special place on my bookshelf and I will reach for it time and time again.
I’ll say no more, but whatever you do - buy it right now and read it!