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Looking For Alaska Hardcover – 2012
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—From the very first page, tension fills John Green's Michael L. Printz Award-winning novel (Dutton, 2005). Miles Halter, 16, is afraid that nobody will show up at his party because he doesn't have many friends. He loves to read biographies and discover the last words attributed to famous people. He's particularly intrigued with the dying words of poet Francois Rabelais: "I go to seek a great perhaps." Miles is leaving his loving Florida home for the "great perhaps" of the same Alabama boarding school attended by his father. Ominous chapter headings (40 days before, 10 days after) reveal that something tragic may happen. At school, Miles is accepted by a brainy group of pranksters led by his roommate and Alaska Young, a smart and sexy feminist. The teen becomes captivated by his new friends who spend as much energy on sex, smoking, drinking, and cutting-up as they do on reading, learning, and searching for life's meaning. As the school year progresses, Miles's crush on Alaska intensifies, even after it becomes evident that her troubled past sometimes causes her to be self-destructive. This novel is about real kids dealing with the pressures of growing up and feeling indestructible. Listeners will be riveted as the friends band together to deal with the catastrophic events that plague their junior year, and rejoice at their triumphs. Jeff Woodman clearly delineates the voices for each character in an age-appropriate, smart-alecky manner, injecting great emotion while managing not to be overly sentimental. This story belongs in all collections for older young adults, especially those who like Chris Crutcher, David Klass, and Terry Trueman.—JoAnn Carhart, East Islip Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor. . . . Like Phineas in John Knowless A Separate Peace, Green draws Alaska . . . lovingly, in self-loathing darkness as well as energetic light.School Library Journal, starred review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.