Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read with a main character who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I read OCDaniel a summer or two ago. I had really enjoyed it. I love stories like this that show these characters as more than their mental illness. Turtles All the Way Down does a great job of showing the ways in which Aza lives with her mental illness. At the end of the day, she is still a teenage girl, but her OCD does have an effect on how she lives that life.
Aza has been battling with invasive thoughts for as long as she can remember. She feels like she is not the author of her own story. I felt like I really got that. I know what it’s like to not feel in control of your life. At one point, I sat on my bed crying because I understood exactly how Aza felt. I don’t know if a character has ever made me feel that way.
John Green doesn’t disappoint when it comes to diversity. From Aza’s best friend to her therapist, there was definitely a show of POC. Not only was there racial diversity, there was also diversity of class. We saw the contrast between characters of humbler beginnings and those who didn’t take 10,000 or even a 100,000 dollars seriously. That was an element that really added to the story. This is one of those books that, after finishing it, you feel the need to read the first chapter over again because it’s just that satisfying.
The character and plot development was very well done. There was so much growth in Aza’s relationships with her best friend Daisy, her maybe love interest Davis, and her mother. The therapist, Dr. Singh, also had a strong role to play in the course of the novel. It was great seeing how the characters shifted from the initial roles they played in the beginning, into full-fledged individuals by the end of it.
I don’t think I’ve written any formal reviews for John Green’s books, besides the ones on my GoodReads, but I have been a fan of his writing for years. I’ve read The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and most of Looking for Alaska. I’ve also watched and loved the movies of TFIOS and Paper Towns. All that to say, John Green is a wonderful author and I’m happy to hear he’s back to writing (as if he ever left it).