“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”
— John Green, Turtles All the Way Down
As someone who has struggled with anxiety and mental illness for quite some time, Green put anxiety into words better than I ever could. I applaud him for being able to accomplish this. It’s such a hard thing to do, but he did it beautifully.
My heart ached for Aza because I could understand her struggle perfectly. My heart also broke for the little girl I used to be before I was able to manage my anxiety. I connected with Aza on a deeper level than I have any other character. I used to imagine I was fiction, too. Like the reality I was living in wasn’t actually reality.
I also applaud Green for including therapy in Aza’s life. Therapy can be a taboo subject sometimes and introducing it in a very normal light and how it’s used to help Aza’s life was really important to me. As an advocate for therapy, I was so pleased with this.
There have been mixed reviews on this book because people who enjoy more plot-driven novels were not happy with the mystery/thriller part of the plot being set aside for the characters internalizations and interactions. However, I love character-driven novels and I think the “mystery” part of the plot was the catalyst to getting Aza and Daisy and Davis and all of the characters to be honest with themselves and each other. I’ve also seen a critique of this book that cited the characters being selfish and mean to one another. Yes, the characters were selfish and, yes, they may have been jerks to each other, but they’re all teenagers and teenagers are selfish jerks. I know I did selfish things when I was a teen that I’m not proud of today. I thought this book was incredibly honest about teenage relationships, mental illness, and life in general.
True to himself, Green was able to create a beautiful, honest story with his words and I am so happy I read this book. It made me be honest with the person I am today versus the person I was. Although I struggled when I was younger and had tendencies like Aza, I don’t want to forget that struggle because it made me who I am. My then was not my forever, but it will always be a part of who I am.
For making me feel and making me tear up (which I rarely do at books), I give Turtles All the Way Down four and a half out of five stars!