Many people turn a snooty condescending nose up at YA fiction believing it to be inferior to adult literature in every way. To these people I say read John Green’s Looking for Alaska… 

Perhaps not the Indianapolis author’s most famous work, I’m sure a fault in our stars takes the cake with that one! But, in my humble opinion it’s the very best. Green paints a beautiful picture of young adult life at Culver Creek preparatory high school. The novel focuses around Miles Halter, or “Pudge” as he is more affectionately known, and his ragtag prankster confidantes. Miles meets Chip Martin “the Colonel”, Takumi Hikohito and Lara Butterskaya at his new high school. However, none of these new friends touch his heart like that of Alaska Young. A beautiful, inspiring presence and Culver Creek’s answer to Shawshank Redemption’s Ellis Boyd Redding. Here are some of the key reasons I believe that Looking for Alaska belongs on a writer’s bookshelf. 

So I walked back into my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking if people were rain I was drizzle and she was a hurricane 

Looking for Alaska reminded me what it was like to be young and in love again. Any well written YA fiction does just that — it pulls on the memories of growing up, the teething issues of fitting into adult life, and how it feels to meet your first love. Mile’s is infatuated with Alaska, she is everything he aspires to be, everything he wants is embodied by her and he falls deeply in love. Green captures these feelings sweetly and innocently but also extremely poetically, as you can see from the line.  

The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive 

John Green, captures many of the lessons we face in our younger years perfectly. As I read the book I began learning things about my life — and I didn’t read it until I was an adult! Although many people have had issues with this novel due to its use of cigarettes and very adult themes, Looking for Alaska is by far the most accurate representation of teenage life I think I’ve ever read. Young people are thrown into the deep end of life. Why should it be any different in literature.   

We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken 

One of the beautiful ideologies captured in this sweet novel are the notions of hope. Miles and his friends begin to find hope. Although a rather dark conclusion to draw, the idea that we can never be irreparably broken, rings true. No matter how broken we are as individuals as long as we are alive we are repairable; we can be fixed. With the right help anything is possible and we can fix each other. This ideology is such a beautiful element of this book because at the particular moment of the characters’ lives they rely on one another. They rely on their peer group. Like many high school teenagers, their peer group is their support group. Looking for Alaska teaches us this valuable lessons regardless of our age.    

For she had embodied the great perhaps– she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes        

This theme of hope lives on in Miles due to his experiences at Culver Creek. The book is not just YA fiction, it details the traumatic and difficult process of what it takes to come of age. Green shows us that we should seize the day and indeed move on to grander maybes. Miles’ traumatic story takes us on a journey through the human psyche in one of the most difficult processes of our lives: growing up!    

What do you think?  

Have you read this novel? Do you share my enthusiasm for YA or do you need a little more convincing? Is there anything I missed? Be sure to leave a comment down at the bottom of this post and let me know what you think.