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Turtles All the Way Down: Fictional and Personal

Years after John Green’s last publication, he has finally published a comeback fiction: Turtles All the Way Down.

The story is narrated by Aza Holmes, a sixteen-year-old who fights her mental illness and obsessive-compulsive disorder while in search of a fugitive billionaire named Russel Pickett. Daisy, her best friend, is eager about the search which has a hundred-thousand-dollar reward.

Aza’s story is partially derived from the author’s experiences. From an article by Penguin Books, Green said “This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal."

While on the search, Aza and Daisy meet Pickett’s son, Davis, who seems to be ill at ease despite being privileged. During the early part of the story, Aza begins to fall for him.

Book cover from

In this book, Green rollicks with metaphors to tell the story. The book delves in the interwoven topics of lifelong friendship, love, and resilience.

Some parts might be cliché to some, because it tackles more of teenage life. Upon reading the first half, one might say it’s all about the search. However, Green took time to emphasize Aza’s life- her interests, friendships, romantic connections, and her mental health in the succeeding parts- to show it was more than that.

The book reminds me that there would be light in every darkness in relation to Aza’s mental health condition and her constant coping with the world. Hence, trying to be the best version of herself despite some circumstances.

The book indeed received many compliments from various publishers and critics:

“[…] John Green hasn’t created a book as much as he’s created a place- a place to have your most indefinable and grotesque thoughts articulated, to ponder the disconnected reality you experience. […] Green’s novel makes the trip, either up or down, a less solitary experience.” - The Globe and Mail

“A wrenching and revelatory novel”. - New York Times.

“[…] Turtles explores the definitions of happy endings, whether love is a tragedy or a failure, and a universal lesson for us all: ‘You work with what you have.’” – USA Today

An excerpt from the book | Tumblr fan art from emergencypizzaparty


John Green, author of best-selling Looking for Alaska (2005) and The Fault in Our Stars (2012), did it again. Hr connects to so many people through his exquisite, enlightening, and palpable writing.