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First drink, first prank, first friend, first girl, last words! A poignant and moving crossover novel about making friends and growing up from American author, John Green. The novel Looking for Alaska follows a young boy Miles (pudge) and his journey throughout boarding school at Culver Creek, Alabama. Through his experiences at Culver Creek he develops connections with the Colonel and Takumi through participating in drinking, smoking and creating mischief. Through these connections he meets Alaska Young, a girl with whom he slowly falls in love. In trying to learn all about Alaska, Pudge learns more about himself and the great perhaps. As this book is all about teenagers and their life, it reveals issue that may be confronting for some, and unfolds the real truth of many teenagers’ lives. This novel uncovers themes that can be major issues many young people experience in today’s society. Through its setting, characters and themes this novel provokes the readers to deliberate the underlying messages that is being sent though.
Looking for Alaska is based on the author John Green’s own experiences at boarding school, as a teenager. Through high school he attended Indian Springs school, Alabama. He used Indian Springs as the inspiration for the main setting of this novel. It’s hard to imagine the Green as a teen nightmare, but apparently, he was a rebellious teenager who did almost no work and participated in pranks, drinking and smoking with his friends. Through the novel John Green shows us a glimpse of teenage life including friendship, love, losing a friend and grief. He does it without making teenagers seem small and their situations undermined. He doesn’t just show readers the highs and lows of teenage life, but instead he attempts to show us how Miles works through his grief following Alaska’s death and forgives himself for letting her go.
This novel is set to become a classic as it uncovers many themes that teenagers have faced in the past and will continue to face for generations to come. It is specifically relevant in today’s society with teenagers suffering at an all-time high from mental health issues which are associated with many of the themes in the novel. Looking for Alaska explores sensitive topics that help raise both awareness and makes readers feel for people that are in similar situations. The novel explores themes that may be confronting to some like intimacy, sex, love, lies, mortality, choices, alcohol, mental health, suicide and guilt. With these themes interlocking through the story they will drag you around as you chase the meaning of the novel. John Green uses his descriptive language to create an atmosphere where his characters are able to show in depth their feelings and emotions while telling a story that readers will enjoy. “It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.” This is reflected in real life as sometimes others are not aware that their peers are having difficulties with some of these themes and experiencing tough times.
The novel uncovers emotions that Pudge feels, which are feeling that all teenagers may experience at some time in their lives. Many teenagers have a fear of experiencing their ‘firsts’, depending on what it is, but the novel explains, “At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid, and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved.” This shows readers that independent of what your emotion you are experiencing, good or bad it all contributes to your development as a person.
Readers also discover different social classes and how they can affect human personalities. As readers are exposed to this, they are shown that life isn’t all that easy, there are obstacles that we need to overcome and to do this they need to surround themselves with the right people that will influence in a positive way.
The novel also has the ability to become a classic through the theme of religion, that is woven into the story. Religion is was used to help readers create an understanding around tragedy, suffering and purpose. As we know Religion is such a very influential part of the world today. The reason people want to believe in a religion is because of two things, firstly it answerers questions such as where did the world come from? where did we come from? And what was before and what is after us?. “Suffering is universal. it’s the one thing Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims are all worried about.”
Looking for Alaska will one day be a classic because of its universal themes that are explored. This novel connects with the most sensitive parts of some readers, it makes readers aware about the reality of many teenagers of all generations old, new and emerging. Irrespective of the year or generation all teenagers are going to experience their First drink, first prank, first friend, first girl, last words! People may not experience all those things during their teenage years but will definitely experience them before their last words.
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