As I read the title “Turtles All The Way Down” scrawled in bold black letters with an orange spiral swirling behind them by John Green, I was immediately intrigued.
I have been a fan of Green’s works for years and have read “Looking for Alaska,” “Paper Towns” and “Let it Snow.” The inside blurb describes a girl named Aza accidentally uncovering a mystery in her town while trying to balance her overwhelming thoughts as she struggles with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. The second I cracked the cover I knew it was much more than that.
According to The New York Times, Green wrote “Turtles All The Way Down” to help individuals who struggle with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder because it is something he has personally dealt with. According to The New York Times, Green said, “‘I want to talk about it, and not feel embarrassment or shame, because I think it’s important for people to hear from adults who have good fulfilling lives and manage chronic mental illness as part of those good fulfilling lives.’” Not only is this novel incredibly poignant and powerful, but also discovering that Green wrote it in order to help individuals who struggle with mental illness and to de-stigmatize the opinions associated with them increases the strength and understanding behind Green’s words. In his work, Green writes in such a way that the reader can almost feel and experience the spiraling thoughts that Aza is going through. He pulls the reader into the spiral and gives a glimpse into what it is to undergo overwhelming anxiety and OCD.
Not only is this novel a story of the internal struggle of mental illness, it is a story of friendship, love, mystery and balancing relationships and life. Although Aza does not realize it at times, she is resilient and cares for others in such a way that they feel understood. Green’s novel makes the reader empathize with Aza as she struggles to balance her uncontrollable thoughts and the everyday challenges of being a 16-year-old girl.
“Turtles All The Way Down” is revolutionary. While helping the reader to feel the inner turmoil of anxiety and OCD, he shows readers that no mental illness can get in the way of success and living out one’s dreams. As for an explanation for the title, well you will just have to read it to find out.
You can find a copy of “Turtles All The Way Down” here.