Looking For Alaska
"Sometimes I don't get you," I said.
She didn't even glance at me. She just smiled towards the television and said. "You never get me. That's the whole point."
I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, this is the novel that I wish I had had when I was starting my teenage years. The first time I read it I absolutely fell in love. It’s a novel that shows teenage life in a very realistic light. The characters in the book smoke, they drink and they have sex and…that’s fine. They’re still good kids.
It’s so rare to see a book that accepts the fact that teenagers will experiment with these things and it’s not particularly dangerous. While the book certainly suggests that you should definitely be careful with these things, Green is adult enough to accept them as facts of teenage life.
It’s all too common for the smokers and drinkers to be the bad kids. The wrong crowd to fall in with, but the characters in Looking for Alaska are loyal, smart, emotive and keep up with their studies.
The novel, sadly, has generated a lot of controversy for these very reasons. It has been banned from several schools and removed from class reading lists. One parent even describing the book as “pornography”.
There is a sex scene in the book, yes, but it’s incredibly brief and mostly played for laughs. It’s not even a particularly “sexy” scene, in fact it’s incredibly awkward, an event both characters involved would probably rather forget.
Sadly, these protesters have completely missed the point of the book. The book has a lot of old fashioned values of love and its importance. It’s a book with real heart. One can’t help but worry that the majority of the people against the book clearly haven’t bothered to read it.
Sadly, all these protests accomplish is robbing young people of a great novel, one that doesn’t pander to teenagers or try to impose strict morals on them.
It’s obvious that I love this book but I did have criticisms. At times, despite their flaws I found the characters….too perfect? They may smoke and swear, but they memorise every capital city in the world, they start out of hours precalc study groups and at one point, even read Kurt Vonnegut novels by moonlight. They’re every parents dream. It’s a minor annoyance and it fits the characters but at times I found it a little unbelievable.
This is a great book though. I’d say it should be essential reading for anyone in their teenage years and even those who’re past them. It’s a book that shows you, during that most awkward period of your life, that you’re not alone, the importance of friendship and that rebelling doesn’t mean you’re a bad kid.