Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down
John Green
Realistic Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Aza, 16, has a lot of intrusive thoughts that she can’t escape – despite medication and the assistance of her therapist.  For instance, she’s disturbed by the possibility that she’s not real, and terrified that she’ll become infected with C diff. (Clostridium difficile) – a potentially life-threatening bacteria – and in the middle of her first kiss she’s overcome with worry that her boyfriend’s microbiome is invading her body.  These are the sorts of things that go through her mind all the time, becoming overwhelming and causing her to harm herself (by reopening a cut on her finger, or even drinking hand sanitizer).  When Aza’s best friend Daisy learns that the father of a wealthy acquaintance of theirs, Davis Pickett, has disappeared pending a criminal investigation, she becomes obsessed with finding him (or at least information that could lead to his discovery/arrest) so they can claim the reward money ($100,000).  Their investigation leads Aza to reconnect with Davis (they went to Sad Camp together when they were kids), and they tentatively begin falling for one another, despite Aza’s issues and Davis’ family problems.  Whether they’ll be able to overcome those issues/problems is another story.  John Green braves the realistic fiction waters (again!) to bring us loveable, unique, and quirky characters whose problems are relatable.  His portrayal of Aza’s inescapable thoughts is at times funny, frustrating, and heartbreaking, but totally real.  Perhaps not as quotable as “The Fault in Our Stars,” but still beautiful and true.

Reviewed by YA Librarian