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BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

| 23 November 2017 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

October 2017
Hardcover, $27.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult / Mental Health Issues


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. 


Back when The Fault in Our Stars was came out at the movies and the book was flying off the shelves, I worked in a bookstore. As a result of seeing the book in two out of three purchases, I found myself unable to contemplate reading it because the hype had well and truly run it into the ground for me.

So this was my first time reading John Green.

Way back when, The Fault in Our Stars was the John Green book that would potentially have been my best chance at liking his work, given the premise, but with the release of Turtles All the Way Down, this has definitely changed.

As someone who suffers from anxiety and OCD, and who had to be supervised around sinks at six-years-old for fear I would stand them washing my hands for fifteen minutes or more, I am always on the lookout for accurate representation in fiction. It’s so easy for writers who haven’t gone through these struggles to include mental health issues in their stories as a quirk and do it poorly.

But where John Green is concerned, he has first hand experience with struggles that are akin to Ava’s, and the portrayal serves as a kind of comfort to those of us who have felt misrepresented in the past.

Ava’s struggles are not romanticised, and indicate well the struggles that people with these spiraling thought patterns go through. 

It should be mentioned that there’s a chance anyone struggling with anything similar to Ava’s own germaphobic issues might find themselves triggered, but for those who don’t, this is a helpful insight into the struggles of their suffering loved-ones.

There was one character in particular this reader found herself wanting to smack some sense into, but I’m not sure I can fault John Green for her, as she too is representative of what goes on in our own world. 

All in all this is an insightful and engaging book about mental illness that doesn’t romanticise it for the sake of Manic Pixie Dream Girl status, and I would definitely recommend reading it. Though it’s not my favourite book dealing with mental health issues, that honour still goes to The Rest of us Just Live Hereit was a great ride and a realistic portrayal of these struggles, set against a more contemporary backdrop than in The Rest of us Just Live Here.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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