TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN: A Book Review

Sometimes, books make you cry because they’re sad. Sometimes, you cry because you’re filled with joy. And sometimes, you cry because finally someone gets it.

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Full disclosure: I love John Green. For some reason, everyone decided it was time to make fun of him, and suddenly it wasn’t cool to read John Green, but he is one of my favourite authors because every single one of his books holds up a mirror and whispers see? There you are.  Turtles is no exception. In fact, I see myself more in Turtles than I have in maybe any other book I have ever read.

Aza is a character that has wrapped her way around my heart. I know this girl, because I am that girl, in many different ways. She’s so personal which makes her charming and also very real. I don’t feel like she’s been “smoothed” down; she’s allowed to keep her sharp edges that might make her wonderfully imperfect.

Maybe you’re not an Aza though. Maybe you’re a Davis, who has problems of his own that are quieter, but still permeate the text. Or maybe you’re a Daisy, who wishes someone would listen to the problems she has for once. Every character is so entirely human, and fractured, and for lack of a better term, lovable. I honestly feel like I read a book about me and my closest friends.

Turtles is both personal and subtle.  The writing style is beautiful (as Green’s writing always is) but I found it to be much simpler than his previous works. It’s still wordy, and has metaphors that make you sigh, but it’s all toned down, letting Aza’s quietness reflect the story she’s telling. Plus, it makes the “loud” parts that much more effective.

Now for what you all want to know: yes, there is a romance plot, but no, this is not a love story nor a romantic book. It is entirely Aza’s story, and the true love story in this book is not between Aza and Davis, but Aza and Daisy. Their friendship soars, and that’s the plot that’s going to squeeze your little heart.

Turtles is John Green without being “John Green.” It’s not a quirky romance, but a true story that reflects the reality of having anxiety in the information age. It’s not as beautifully heart-wrenching as Looking for Alaska, nor as romantically devastating as The Fault in Our Stars, but it is subtle and personal and quiet, which is sometimes all you want a book to be.

And yes, the ending made me cry. In the best, most wonderful way.

5 turtle backs out of 5

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