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Looking For Alaska Hardcover – March 3, 2005
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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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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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A young adult novel about life and death and moving on doesn't sound all that original at first, but Green's treatment of adolescents is different. He makes his characters complex and intelligent and impulsive as every teenager truly is. He does not treat his characters as they might treat themselves, over-important or that which should be pitied. Nor does he treat them as so many adults might, with disdain for their rashness and lack of experience. The author makes his story accessible and realistic to teens and adults alike because there seems to be truth in the conflicting emotions his characters go through.
Mildly pornographic. MILDLY. Just tasteful enough for adolescents learning that sex is confusing and funny and kinda great but really just mostly confusing at first.
I'm glad the answers aren't given in this book. It's about learning how to move on when there aren't definite answers, when there is doubt. This book is about figuring out some things on your own and doing the best you can with what you've got. It helps to forgive and to empathize and to search, but keep going all the while, day by day.
The novel takes place within the Culver Creek Preparatory High School near Birmingham, Alabama. Miles “Pudge” Halter is the new student, obsessed with the last words of famous people. He has transferred to Culver Creek in the hopes that he can find his own “Great Perhaps,” an idea that has come from the last words of François Rabelais, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” At his last school, Miles was a bit socially awkward, more obsessed with reading biographies than with socializing with friends, and he wants to start fresh at Culver Creek. The first person he meets is Chip “The Colonel” Martin, his new roommate who introduces Miles to his own best friends. Takumi Hikohito is obsessed with hip hop and rapping and Alaska Young is a beautiful girl, although emotionally rather unstable, for whom Miles immediately falls.
In many ways, Alaska is the glue that holds the group of friends together. She is beautiful and intelligent and fun to be with and very enigmatic. Although we see different parts of her throughout the book, we, as readers, never really know her any more than her friends do. Even at the end, there are questions that leave you angsty and emotional. Her story is her own and threads of it run through the stories of all of her friends. She is irrevocably a part of their own histories in a myriad of ways.
More than anything, it is a story of coming of age, with all of the pain and angst that goes along with it. There are beautiful moments, funny moments heart wrenching moments, touching moments. There are moments of laughter and moments of sadness. It is an absolutely beautiful story.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the book was its structure. It is created in two parts, "Before" and "After," leading us to and from a pivotal point that I won't describe. The chapters underscored that concept, marking time like "forty-five days before." You know something is going to happen, but you have no idea what it is.
My Recommendation: I think that this is a beautiful book that touches on real situations in ways that are both touching and tragic.
Most recent customer reviews
Boom, then something happens and we all learn to deal with it together.