Turtles All the Way Down, Reviewed by Rachel Freilich, 13

Book Reviews  /   /  By Sarah Ainsworth
Stone Soup Magazine
July/August 2018

John Green, acclaimed author of The Fault in our Stars, is back after nearly five years with his new novel, Turtles all the Way Down.

In this novel, Aza introduces her friend Daisy to us. Aza and Daisy are trying to solve the investigation of a billionaire gone missing for the prize of a large sum of money. Coincidentally, Aza knows the son of the billionaire, Davis Pickett, so they figure that they will become friends with him to discover more about his father. Aza also has raging anxiety and she worries that she’s not in control of her own mind. She gets overcome with spiraling thoughts about the bacteria that could be invading her body. Daisy always tries to tell Aza that she is always stuck on baseless thoughts in her own head. Meanwhile, Davis and Aza are hanging out more and start to become closer, which is exciting and terrifying for Aza, Davis, and even Daisy.

As I was reading Turtles all the Way Down, from Aza’s perspective, I realized how John Green visualized Aza’s anxiety. Aza’s anxiety is a downward spiral for her; it keeps on going and gets worse unless she can put a stop to it. As usual, John Green’s writing is heartbreaking, funny and relatable, too. His writing makes you visualize a spiral in your head, while imagining how it connects to many moments in your own life. In showing Aza’s anxiety, he brings that issue to life. He shows how people can fight with anxiety and overcome it. While reading, I was relating Aza’s anxiety to my own life. When I get stressed, I feel that there is a spiral in my mind and that nothing can overtake it. Aza’s life and how she tries to overcome her anxiety, motivates me to stop my ongoing spiral and calm down. Although some people do not have anxiety, they can also imagine and connect a spiral to many moments of their own life. While reading, I also thought of many reasons that John Green would write this book and one major one came to my mind. Not only is John Green raising awareness for teens with anxiety, but he is also showing how he overcomes his own anxiety.

Raising awareness for teens with anxiety is extremely important. John Green writes about mental illness in this book to show teens the importance of dealing with psychiatric issues and to teach teens to overcome their anxiety. This novel is very meaningful because it shows how to get debilitating thoughts out of their own head. Aza wants to overcome her anxiety, but cannot control it because of fear that something bad will happen to her. That’s the essence of Aza’s fear and the feeling of being taken over by outside influences and not being her own person. At one point, Aza thinks about how the string from one musical instrument can cause the string of another to vibrate. In essence, that’s what this novel does too. When you start reading it, there is a chain of events that spiral, and you cannot put the book down.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2017. Buy the book here and support the Children’s Art Foundation–Stone Soup in the process!

Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? If so, comment below!

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