Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

John Green

Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 221 pages

Publisher: Speak

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave "the Great Perhaps" even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

I first heard about this book while watching a DVD that came with Penny Kittle’s book. She was doing a read aloud with her students and was raving about a book called Looking for Alaska. I looked it up, thought it looked great (even after her pumping it up), and marked it as “to read” in Goodreads. It was one of those books that kept popping up in random conversations (at NCTE with Paul Hankins and Kellee Moye) and when my husband asked what books I wanted for Christmas, I made sure it was at the top of my list.

It did not disappoint.

I can’t get enough of John Green and his writing. His style is raw, emotional and captivating. It felt as if I were right there experiencing everything with Pudge and his friends and his emotions were written so well. I loved reading a male lead written by a male. I don’t think that there are enough good ones of those out there so I am so glad that I have this one to add to my collection. Green has a way of captivating his audience with language that many of us who are writers only dream to have. I truly enjoyed this novel and is originality in organization (“One hundred nine days before”… “Twenty one days after”) added to it in ways that one can only discover when they read this amazing novel for themselves. I also learned a great deal about many people’s last words through Pudge’s obsession with this topic. Now I am conscious of what my words are… they could be my last!

This novel is definitely one that I plan to use examples of writing style with in my classroom… how could I not? Undeniably a great read!

On a side note... I read some of the 1 star reviews and I just have to say that as a middle school teacher, I know that my kids are definitely exposed to and sometimes participate in the issues in this book. To say that it should not be on a shelf because it has things like drugs, sex, alcohol and porn would mean that we have to take many of the classics off of the shelf too. They are FULL of those same things. They just use more poetic terms to guise it from people so that those who don't pay attention or haven't a clue won't know what they are referencing (Shakespeare was a VERY dirty bird!!). Have an open mind when you read things like this and applaud the authors writing the material because this is what our kids are dealing with these days. Sometimes that is hard to swallow for people because they like to say, "well that's not how it was when I was younger," and I completely agree. But times have changed and it is time for open conversation with our teenagers. If we choose to take books off of shelves and ban them from talking about things like this, then we are going to be in a world of trouble.

Visit John at his site HERE and follow him on twitter (@realjohngreen) for more info on his great books!

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