Looking for Alaska was John Green’s first novel. It won the Printz award in 2008.
Miles “Pudge” Halter is transferring to the elite boarding school “CuLooking for Alaska was John Green’s first novel. It won the Printz award in 2008.
Miles “Pudge” Halter is transferring to the elite boarding school “Culver Creek” at the age of 16. His life until now has been pretty uninspiring. He is a typical teen; not a loser, not popular, but extremely bright while unenthusiastic about his current school and life in general. Miles is a collector of last words of famous people and is inspired in this school switch by the last words of the poet Francois Robelais; “I go to seek a Great Perhaps”.
What Pudge finds at “the Creek” is his first freedom from his parents, his first major teen rebellion through the consumption of the forbidden cigarettes and alcohol, and his first love for an amazing girl named Alaska. In this way, Looking for Alaska is a typical coming of age story. However, it is written in an atypical manner.
The students at Culver Creek are all highly intelligent high-achievers. Their free time is taken up with well-planned and well-implemented pranks that stretch them intellectually. These pranks are usually conducted between the two major student factions – the Weekday Warriors, those wealthy students who can afford to go home each weekend, and the less fortunate who spend all week at the school. It is through these pranks that Pudge develops friendships with the Colonel, Alaska, and other friends Takumi and Lara. For the first time he finds himself belonging and being seen as a reliable and trusted friend.
What makes Looking for Alaska unique is the design. The story is told in two parts: 1. Days counted off leading to a traumatic event, and 2. Days counted off after this event. I am reminded of the movie Life is Beautiful where the first half is a comedy and the second half a tragedy. The first half of this story reads like a typical, humorous coming of age story. Pudge is growing up and sharing common experiences with other teens in the same process. In school his favorite class is World Religions taught by Dr. Hyde. He finds within this class an opportunity to objectively explore ideas about what life is about and whether there is an afterlife. Here he uses some last words from a book Alaska is reading about Simon Bolivar “Damn, how will I get out of this labyrinth?” as inspiration for his study. He begins to think about the interconnectedness of all things.
After the tragic event, Pudge now finds his explorations about life, death and interconnectedness have become personal. He and the Colonel struggle with their culpability in the event, and seek to understand why it occurred and if they could have prevented it. Their search leads them to find out more about themselves, their friendships, and about their friend. They determine the best tribute they can make for their friend is a light-hearted prank based on Alaska’s original plans for a great prank for their senior year. It is this search and discovery that puts Looking for Alaska above the standard coming of age theme. It incorporates additional themes of love, friendship, loyalty, the meaning of life, our beliefs about the afterlife, and the interconnectedness of all things.
The superior language of Looking for Alaska also lifts it to the level of literary excellence. The growth we see in all the characters is the shift from the self-absorbed normal teen, to that of individuals seeing themselves as parts of a greater world. The descriptions help us to see them developing empathy and learning about personal responsibility. We see the world at Culver Creek from the perspective of Pudge as he grows and slowly learns to see the wholeness of the friends he has made. Pudge’s view of the world expands to help him learn tolerance and even appreciation for what makes up each of his friend’s lives.
Looking for Alaska is a story written in a way to appeal to teens in a classic “living vicariously” manner. They can see themselves in the characters and, yet, learn from their mistakes without experiencing them personally. I expect this to be a story read by teens for many years, as the themes are those close to their heart. And, luckily for all readers, Looking for Alaska also foreshadowed John Green’s writing career. ...more
I almost loved this book. But, I got to the next to the last chapter and all of a sudden, I said, "oh, come on". I kind of got tired of every single bI almost loved this book. But, I got to the next to the last chapter and all of a sudden, I said, "oh, come on". I kind of got tired of every single bite of food causing a life changing experience for a character. Yes, I loved the concept of this title, and loved the characters. I really got into food as a metaphor for experiencing life to its fullest and living life in the moment. This book made me want to get up and cook or bake. And, in fact, I did. I made these wonderful lemon crinkle cookies for my book club as it was reading this for our June title. But, for some reason, when I got to Ian's story with Antonia, it felt like it was just too much.
I did still really like the book, though. And, it lends itself to a lot of book club discussion....more
One woman is a hoarder and keeps everything - does she value things over people? Is she attached to things because she has not developed attachments tOne woman is a hoarder and keeps everything - does she value things over people? Is she attached to things because she has not developed attachments to people? The second woman has written a book on organizing a home and is hired to assist the hoarder in clearing out her house. This woman doesn't have many things as she recently sold her home to pay for her sons rehab? She claims to have no attachment to things. But does she have no things because she gives too much? These two women clash as they work to a very set deadline. Why is the deadline so important? What are the women hiding from each other? And do they have more in common than they think. I expected this to be a light read about the exploits of a home organizer and her hoarder client. But this was actually a deeper story that made a great book club read. There was quite a bit to discuss. How important should "things" be in our lives? And does our accumulation of things reflect something about our relationships? I highly recommend this for book clubs....more
To read Forgotten Gardens and believe the mystery is the object of this book is to totally miss the meaning of this story. Yes, the women of ForgottenTo read Forgotten Gardens and believe the mystery is the object of this book is to totally miss the meaning of this story. Yes, the women of Forgotten Gardens are seeking answers, but the answers they receive are more important than the solution to their mystery. Yes, Cassandra does resolve the question of how her grandmother, Nell, came to be on a ship to Australia at the age of four. And, yes, Cassandra discovered the answer to who Nell was before being placed on the ship. But, that is not the purpose of this story. If you happen to discover the answer well before the end of the book, that is fine. It doesn't matter. As is true of so many well told stories, it is the journey, rather than the destination that holds the richness. The true answers for the three women of Forgotten Gardens, Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra are the identities within themselves. Who they are becomes not as important as what they are and to whom they are important. Isn't this the answer we are all seeking in our lives? I found the book truly moving and the characters unforgettable. The women of this story breathe to me and are alive with their spirit so prevalent throughout the book. A wonderful story of loss and a saga of women seeking their true selves....more
Sweet story. My first romance novel in a very long time. I enjoyed the characters and found the story captivating. As with most stories along this linSweet story. My first romance novel in a very long time. I enjoyed the characters and found the story captivating. As with most stories along this line, I have such a hard time with keeping secrets being a major plot driver. ...more
I have lately been reading several Pride and Prejudice alternates/sequels. I have to say this one ranks very high on my list of favorites. 1st - the wI have lately been reading several Pride and Prejudice alternates/sequels. I have to say this one ranks very high on my list of favorites. 1st - the writing style is reminscent of Austen. The language is very period and the sentence structure is similar. In addition, there is still the sense of taking a microscope to society and finding its humor. Compared to other books in this genre, this one made very striking points that caused me to laugh at loud, similarly to Austen herself in P and P. In addition, there was actually a feasible story line here. Elizabeth and Darcy have been asked to raise not only their own child, but that of Lydia and Wickham by Mr and Mrs Bennet. In addition, further information identifies Wickham was not working on his own when he planned to seduce Lydia. Both story lines fit Austen's style and make the book worth reading. Finally, I found the Elizabeth and Darcy characters in this book to be the closest to the originals in character to any of the fan fiction I have read. I recommend it to those, like me, who have read Pride and Prejudice a dozen times and are interested in a follow-up. ...more
A book I stumbled upon. I just bought my first kindle and was online looking for an inexpensive or even free book to try out. I found AmazonEncore, whA book I stumbled upon. I just bought my first kindle and was online looking for an inexpensive or even free book to try out. I found AmazonEncore, which I had never heard of before. I liked the concept so loaded this book on my kindle. Yesterday. I read the entire book in one sitting.
The story is mostly told from the perspective of Skyla who lost her mother at a young age and traveled the country with an unsettled father. She meets Thomas and marries him, and a good portion of the book is also told from the standpoint of her mother-in-law, Audrey, who is an obsessive mother and homemaker who feels unappreciated. Then a new neighbor, Roxanne, moves in near Skyla and the two women become fast friends, although they handle life very differently. As a mother of one child, Skyla watches in amazement at the chaos that is Roxanne's life with 5 sons. And, of course, Audrey looks on with disapproval at the lives of both of the younger women, knowing she could do it all better.
The characters grabbed me immediately. I found them so believable and the writing so engaging. There were many things that made me laugh out loud. And, then I cried.
I am a fan of Binchy, Pilcher, Ross, Flagg, etc. I love books about women, their relationships and their lives. This is a story about ordinary people, going through their ordinary lives, having ordinary misunderstandings and jealousies, and about friendship and family and love. A great reminder that we cannot sit back and wait for love - we must risk and seek relationships. And, we have to accept people as they are with all their faults and look for the good and love within them.
I understand this was a self-published kindle book, but it is now going to be released as a regular book, and it has been optioned for a film. ...more
Good, but not great! Could have used a bit of editing down. Characters are well defined and sympathetic. Told in first person by two women - one middlGood, but not great! Could have used a bit of editing down. Characters are well defined and sympathetic. Told in first person by two women - one middle-aged experiencing losses that have turned her family upside down, the other a 12 year old posing as 17 in order to avoid questions about why there is no adult in the family, brother is 17, posing as 20 for same reason. The older woman, SandraKaye, discovers hungry children in the area of her deceased great uncles house and begins bringing them sandwiches. She finds this process is helping her cope with the murder of her great uncle and a son who has disappeared because he feels guilt for not being with his great uncle when the murder occurred. The young girl, Cass, is trying desperately to keep a household together with little money and too many mouths to feed. She and her brother keep the loss of their mother a secret so that they do not have to go to foster care and be separated. Rusty, the brother, lies about his age in order to get an apartment and keep a job. Cass and SandraKaye connect when Cass seeks out the sandwiches SandraKaye is distributing and begins to help her with the distribution. This work snowballs and both find the ability to trust again and to discover the importance of giving and receiving....more
I saw this as a new book coming at the library and decided to give it a try. I am not a quilter, so have not read any of the prior books in the seriesI saw this as a new book coming at the library and decided to give it a try. I am not a quilter, so have not read any of the prior books in the series, but I have been to Hawaii a couple of times and love the culture and history. I did not have high expectations for this book, but I was wrong. The word I would use is "rich". My enjoyment of the books stems from several aspects. 1. The character of Bonnie: someone who grows during the course of the book and learns more about herself than almost anything else. She is going through a bitter divorce, and gratefully heads to Maui to help a friend open Aloha Quilt Camp, to get away from her soon to be ex and his abuse as they fight over property distribution. Bonnie is a NORMAL person. Wow! She is not overly heroic, she is not perfect, but she is a good friend, honest, and doing her best. She experiences hurt and disappointment, but also shame and embarassment. Bonnie is a woman I would like to know personally. 2. The Hawaiian culture and history. Not prettied up for tourists. The real deal, with the US invasion of Hawaii and the house arrest of the Queen. I wish when I was in Hawaii I could have found as genuine a cultural experience as Bonnie did. 3. The sisterhood of quilting. A very real and genuine love of the quilting craft comes through in the telling of the Aloha Quilt. I cannot but believe the author quilts! 4. A realistic view of divorce when things are not equitable and both sides are fighting for what they believe is theirs. However, the one flaw in the book is the very one dimensional soon to be ex husband, Craig. Although Bonnie is not shown to be a perfect person, there is very little discussion of how she contributed to the ending of her marriage. All in all, I was impressed. I will be comfortable recommending this author to library patrons. ...more
Similar to Twilight, but in the reverse. Instead of the bad boy who tells the girl to forget him, he isn't good for her, it is the bad girl telling thSimilar to Twilight, but in the reverse. Instead of the bad boy who tells the girl to forget him, he isn't good for her, it is the bad girl telling the boy the same thing. This is a very cliche type of storyline, but the southern, gothic atmosphere of this book really adds the needed distinction. The magic here is subtle and less controlled than in say Harry Potter. The bad girl is really a good girl who cannot control her circumstances and is not really sure exactly what they are - has she been given all the facts by those who love her? Telling the tale from the boy's perspective is also kind of unique. Interesting and captivating. I will say, there is a slow southern drawl to the writing of the book that could cause some readers to become impatient, but this style is very atmospheric. And, it creates a great character based book....more
In October of 2009 my husband and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. So, how much can we learn from a set of books called "For Couples OnlIn October of 2009 my husband and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. So, how much can we learn from a set of books called "For Couples Only"? Quite a bit, actually. Or, maybe, I should say, it was not so much learning something new, as it was being reminded of things we knew or should have remembered. We read the two books separately and then talked a bit about them. But, I know the first day I started reading, I was reminded of how easily a wife could hurt a husband's feelings by shaming him publicly. While out to dinner the prior weekend with my brother and his wife, I had teased my husband about his handyman skills. It shamed me to realize that this was probably the one thing my husband prides himself on the most. At dinner that night I apologized and he was obviously touched. I told him how proud I was of all he was truly able to do around the house and on our vehicles without us having to call in a professional. I also confessed the book had reminded me this could be a bad way to tease him. Both of us agreed - even for old married folks like us, there is something to learn or relearn in this material. ...more
After starting this book once and not liking the dialect, I just kept hearing so many great things about it. Everyone else I knew loved it. So, I gaveAfter starting this book once and not liking the dialect, I just kept hearing so many great things about it. Everyone else I knew loved it. So, I gave it a second try. Amazingly, everyone else was right! I truly loved the witty writing and the relationships. Everyone knows a Hilly, and the only thing wrong with the book is that she did not get everything she deserved. Otherwise, I would have given it 5 stars....more