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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

BOOK review
Started on: 14 October 2017
Finished on: 28 October 2017

Title : Turtles All the Way Down
Author : John Green
Publisher : Dutton Books
Pages : 304 pages / 292 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication : 2017
Price : Rp 243,000 (

Rating: 4/5
"The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely."
Sixteen-year-old Aza Holmes is a high school student living with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and suffers from 'thought spirals' time and time again. Having these 'thought spirals' made her lead a secluded life. One day, her best friend, Daisy Ramirez, discovered the news of a billionaire named Russell Pickett has gone missing—and there's a $100,000 reward for those who's able to find him. Russell Pickett's son, Davis Pickett, was an old acquaintance of Aza. Tempted with the huge amount of reward, Daisy and Aza decided to sneak into the Pickett's compound to search for clues. After they were discovered, Aza was reunited with Davis and their relationship grows from that point onwards.

"The way he talked about thoughts was the way I experienced them—not as a choice but as a destiny. Not a catalog of my consciousness, but a refutation of it."
Trapped in her own 'thought spirals' and paranoia, Aza found herself difficult to maintain her relationship with Davis—and even her friendship with Daisy. The more she tries to break free, the more she's bound to it. Despite her constant consultations with her doctor and medications from Dr. Karen Singh, Aza's efforts seems to be in vain. As she struggles through her mental disorder, they also struggles with figuring out the mystery behind Russell Pickett's disappearance.
"I knew how that felt—all my life, I'd been unable to think straight, unable to even finish having a thought because my thoughts came not in lines but in knotted loops curling in upon themselves, in sinking quicksand, in light-swallowing wormholes."
"Do you feel like you're getting better?" Everyone wanted me to feed them that story—darkness to light, weakness to strength, broken to whole. I wanted it, too.
image source: here. edited by me.
I cannot help myself but to expect this book to be as good as The Fault in Our Stars, because that book left such a deep impression and will always have a special space in my heart ♥ Even though this book doesn't necessary fulfill that expectation, I still enjoyed it nevertheless. Especially because I feel like I gained more knowledge in terms of mental disorder, specifically OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I find it really intriguing because John Green, the author himself, is also someone who has OCD. So it was indeed a very personal story for him and it's a privilege for me to dive into the thoughts of a character with OCD as I read through this book. Turns out having OCD is much more complicated than what I thought it was.
"But I also had a life, a normal-ish life, which continued. For hours or days, the thoughts would leave me be, and I could remember something my mom told me once: Your now is not your forever."
"You don't have to be afraid of that thought. Thought is not action."
"In job interviews they'd ask me, What's your greatest weakness? and I'd explain that I'll probably spend a good portion of the workday terrorized by thoughts I'm forced to think, possessed by a nameless and formless demon, so if that's going to be an issue, you might not want to hire me."
Plot-wise, there's not really much going on because I think the story is much more focused on the character developments. My favorite character from this book is definitely Daisy Ramirez! Daisy is such a fun, talkative character and I think she's the perfect kind of best friend for Aza who's quiet most of the time because she's so absorbed in her own thoughts. Her personality is so lively to the point it made my heart break a little when she finally expressed her feelings and disappointments about Aza as her friend (I won't spoil too much though).

Davis Pickett is also quite an interesting character for his love of constellations and poetry. At first he seems a bit insecure because he thinks everyone wants to befriend him for the money. Through Davis's angsty blog posts, we get to see how he struggles through his family situation as well as his relationship with Aza. With Aza Holmes, everything turned complicated because of her spiraling thoughts. As the story goes, the reader will slowly get to understand how much her thoughts has been eating her from the inside. There are some scenes that are quite disturbing but it really opened my mind as to how bad / severe her condition really is. Even until the end of this book, Aza still is struggling with her thoughts.  The author gave more like an open-ended ending rather than an obvious happy ending to the story. Which makes me, as the reader, ponder on the possibilities that would come in the future.
"Me: You're not your money.
Him: Then what am I? What is anyone?
Me: I is the hardest word to define.
Him: Maybe you are what you can't not be."
"Every loss is unprecedented. You can't ever know someone else's hurt, not really—just like touching someone else's body isn't the same as having someone else's body."
As I've said earlier, this is definitely not my favorite John Green book, but I do admit that I enjoyed it nevertheless. Some parts are a bit difficult to read because we really gets to see what's going on inside Aza's mind and what she's struggling with. If you like John Green's writing in his other books, you will most probably enjoy this one as well. There are so many quotable lines on this book that made me think about thoughts, about friendship, and even about existing as one's self. Just like when I read other books that tackles difficult topics such as mental disorder / illness, it increases my understanding of the situation that the person is in. Conditions like these should never to be taken lightly. And people who do not know how it truly feels, should not underestimate the severity of experiencing such things.

P.S: If you're wondering what does turtles have to do with all this, just read the book—as usual, John Green will explain the philosophy behind his book titles towards the end of the story ;)
"No, it's not Holmesy. You pick your endings, and your beginnings. You get to pick the frame, you know? Maybe you don't choose what's in the picture, but you decide on the frame."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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