Turtles All the Way Down
By: John Green
# of pages: 298
Challenges: A to Z
Quote: “I wanted to tell her that I was getting better, because that was supposed to be the narrative of illness: It was a hurdle you jumped over, or a battle you won. Illness is a story told in the past tense.” -Aza
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.
My review: I was amazed to discover that there’s a book about someone like me. I not only suffer from depression, but also an anxiety disorder. I also have undiagnosed OCD symptoms, but I know a large part of that is due to the anxiety. My symptoms and thoughts are like a less exaggerated version of Aza’s, but I was stunned that there’s actually a book out there, written by a popular author, with a main character who struggles with severe anxiety.
This book is about Aza, who suffers from extreme anxiety on a daily basis. Not only is she navigating high school, friendship, and her relationship with her mom, she’s also dealing with memories of her dad’s death, managing medications, and going to doctor’s appointments. On top of all that, she is suddenly reintroduced to an old friend of hers, Davis, whose father is missing. At first she wants to solve the disappearance to split the reward money with her best friend Daisy, but she quickly comes to care for Davis.
The story goes on from there. I’m biased, but I felt entirely sympathetic for Aza. The story also tells of her best friend Daisy’s feelings about Aza’s anxiety and shows how her mom feels. I understand it’s hard living with someone who has anxiety and other mental issues, but nothing compares to living it yourself.
“Felt myself slipping, but even that’s a metaphor. Descending, but that is, too. Can’t describe the feeling itself except to say that I’m not me. Forged in the smithy of someone else’s soul. Please just let me out. Whoever is authoring me, let me up out of this. Anything to be out of this.”
Why I gave this book 5/5 stars: Well written, unique characters and story, interesting mystery, good representation of mental illness.