Thursday, November 9, 2017

A geezer’s take on Looking for Alaska

I like to hit the random media button on TV Tropes, which is how I found out about Looking for Alaska, John Green’s first young adult book. Which was easy to find at the library and short so I paused my other reading and read it.

I’m going to do my best not spoil the book and the plot of the book definitely pivots on a spoiler. 

The basic idea of the book is that a geeky, shy guy goes off to school where he meets a beautiful girl who gets him to smoke and drink and just loosen up. You know the plot of more movies and books and such than you can shake a stick at.

What makes Looking for Alaska interesting and genuinely good book is that the girl is ultimately shown to not be some kind of wild savior. Instead, she’s a complete, self-destructive mess. AND the main character’s obsession with her isn’t just unhealthy for him but it’s also not any good for her.
The growth of the main character doesn’t come from out of his shell. It comes from him realizing that he wasn’t in love with a person but obsessing over the idealized dream of a person.

Reading the book a couple decades older than the target audience was an interesting experience because both characters reminded me of people I knew when I was younger. Heck, I wonder if I have played both roles to different people.

And the two lessons that the book teaches ring true. One, the promise of the manic pixie girl is a false one and it’s usually not even one that the manic pixie girl really made. Two, you grow out of it. Honest.

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