Green’s Turtle

Greens Turtle

Natasha Burrows, Staff Writer

There is a question readers ask whenever they pick up a John Green novel: How emotionally destroyed am I going to be by the time I finish this book?


Turtles All The Way Down follows Aza, a 16-year old wanna-be detective living in Indianapolis. On the surface, the book has all the pieces we’ve come to know and love from a John Green novel: an impossible task, a quirky best friend, a charming love interest, and unbelievable dialogue.


Rather than giving us the traditional twists we’d expect for these characters and storylines, they are left suspended and unsatisfied. The book’s central mystery is pursued as an afterthought at best. Instead, they are just the background for what the true journey of Turtles is all about: What it’s like to live with mental illness. In Turtles, our protagonist Aza suffers from severe anxiety and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and frequently gets trapped in thought spirals from which there is seemingly no escape other than her compulsions. It’s a clever book cover isn’t is?


It’s a move that may seem shocking to readers at first, but in a lot of ways Turtles All The Way Down feels like the next logical step in Green’s career. His protagonists have ALWAYS had rich interior lives. But even with their larger-than-life plots, John’s novels are filled with quiet moments that readers can experience. Whether it’s navigating friendships, fear of loss, the magic of falling in love. Aza is not striving to find and love someone else. She’s striving to love herself.


That’s not to suggest that this book is only sadness. It’s still a John Green novel, which is to say: Turtles All The Way Down is very charming. Daisy lights up every scene that she’s in. Davis, his blog, and his poems will just make you smile. Even during the most painful moments, there is tenderness that radiates out of Turtles All The Way Down. John Green has crafted a dynamic novel that is deeply honest, sometimes painful, and always thoughtful. Turtles All The Way Down is by far not a perfect novel, no novel is, but it is worth the read. Welcome back John Green!