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Looking for Alaska Paperback – September 14, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 4,307 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1999, Peter Jenkins and his family left their farm in Tennessee to live in Alaska for a few seasons, eventually renting a house in Seward, Alaska (pop. 2,830) on the Kenai Peninsula. The principal aim of the trip was for Jenkins to write a travelogue, but he also saw it as an opportunity to end a period of personal stagnation. It appears to have worked, for Looking for Alaska is filled with a vibrancy that can only come from one with a fully charged battery. Recognizing that "This giant place is filled with people determined to live as free as possible of others' intervention," he employed the same low-key approach to research that made his bestselling book A Walk Across America (1979) so engaging--he made friends wherever he went and allowed people to share their stories in their own way and in their own time. Part of Jenkins's charm is that he never pretends that he's figured the place out; he readily cops to his outsider status and invites readers to experience his sense of awe and surprise with him. During his 18-month stay in the Last Frontier, Jenkins spent time with wildlife rangers, recreation guides, native whalers, fishermen, and dogsled mushers, all of whom showed Jenkins and his family glimpses of their own private Alaska. (They also shared their bear stories; it seems nearly everyone in the state has had at least one run-in with the giant predator). "No one is ever the same after coming back from Alaska," he writes and after reading his book, it's easy to believe him. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The footloose Jenkins (A Walk Across America; The Walk West; etc.) hits the road again if not actually the blacktop. Jenkins's 18-month sojourn in Alaska involves more unconventional modes of travel: a nervy float-plane trip through the fog with a passenger who knows the route better than the pilot, for instance, or a wild ride across a frozen river on a sled attached to 13 surging huskies. For all its moments of adventure, though, this book feels more deliberate than Jenkins's earlier journeys. The people he meets seem to have been selected in advance by a booking agent. But that doesn't take away from their stories or from Jenkins's ability to draw them out. He is no poet, but maybe that's why he fits so easily into the company of a people with a natural distrust of outsiders, and why he can bond with a fisherman who "would feel much more at home at the dinner-table with ex-football coaches John Madden and Mike Ditka." Even if Jenkins comes across as more settled and his need for self-discovery a quest that added a spark to his previous works has lessened, the author's ability to inspire confidence in others is a quality that hasn't changed. Nor has his courage to even undertake such a trek. And whether it's the crepuscular sunlight ricocheting off a glacier, a massive brown bear rooting through his garbage or a grizzled mountain man named Wild Gene, Jenkins convinces readers that there is much to look at and to look for in Alaska.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 434 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312302894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312302894
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,307 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
Green's debut YA novel follows a year in the life of high school junior Miles Halter, a friendless Floridian who begged his parents to enroll him in the Culver Creek boarding school. Miles dreams of starting anew at his elite Alabama prep school, of finding Francois Rabelais's "The Great Perhaps." At school, he falls in with a prankster of a roommate, the Colonel, and the sassy, sexy, messed-up Alaska Young. For an unforgettable 128 days, Miles learns life lessons in love, loyalty, friendship, literature, and poetry, as well as experiences the thrill of a first girlfriend. When tragedy strikes Culver Creek, Miles is forced to undertake an even closer examination of his own character and relationship with his friends.

This is an outstanding coming-of-age novel that has already proved to be a favorite teen read. It doesn't resort to a cop out of a "happily ever after" ending, but the characters each seek closure on their own terms. The characters are well-drawn, witty, and full of individual quirks and spunk. Green even manages to bring in the reality of cigarettes and alcohol without a preachy or over-glorifying tone. This novel has won the Teen's Top 10 award as well as the Printz Award, and Green is well on his way to YA superstardom. I'm looking forward to his next novel.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Though /Looking for Alaska/ is categorized as young adult fiction, it's an enjoyable read for any age. John Green has a talent for picking out little details in the world he creates, then using those details to remind the reader that this is a world that could have been -- indeed, it's the world we live in, and Green does a good job of convincing the reader of that.

The quality of the writing is very high, and the story is in general very good. However, I was underwhelmed by the ending of this book. There is a nice, humanizing climax in the last pages of /Alaska/, but the book sets itself up as deeper and more philosophical than it really is. John Green creates this world of living, breathing characters and sets very realistic events into motion... But in the end, not much is resolved or clarified in any profound way. That's probably a realistic portrayal of life itself, but not necessarily what one would be looking for in a book with a dust cover touting the "indelible impact" of human life.

A fun, fast read, but certainly not an "indelible" book and not a particularly deep one -- no matter how young or old an adult you may be.
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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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