Kat Alexander's Reviews > Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green
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Feb 14, 10

bookshelves: favourites, reviewed, 101-books-before-you-die, signed, books-i-own
Recommended for: EVERYONE (14+)
Read in January, 2009, read count: so many times...

** spoiler alert ** Looking for Alaska is not in fact a book about traveling the US, or someone disabled looking on the map, trying to look for a very large chunk of funny-looking land and not look stupid at the same time, but about looking for a purpose, a Great Perhaps, and maybe Alaska herself.

Alaska Young could have saved her mother's life. But like any other seven year old, she froze up. And so her mother died. Her father didn't blame her, not after the initial shock anyway. Miles, the lead character and narrator, didn't blame her. Takumi and the Colonel didn't blame her. But Alaska blamed herself. She got caught up in Simón Bolívar's labyrinth of life, death, or suffering, she didn't live to find out which it was. She did, however, make her choice (possibly prematurely): she said that the labyrinth is suffering. And the best way to get out? "Straight and Fast"

Miles Halter got caught up with Alaska upon coming to Culvert Creek, a boarding school a few miles south of Birmingham, Alabama, where there are Weekday Warriors, the Eagle, buferitos, and one Alaska Young. Miles is captivated by Alaska. She's not exactly your average crush, though. Alaska smokes "to die", drinks Strawberry Hill straight from the bottle, plays the best pranks, and flirts with everyone. And then... she tutors people in precalc so they don't flunk out of the Creek, takes stands for woman's rights, writes eloquent speeches, and plans to teach autistic kids when she grows up.

Alaska has violent mood swings and often flies off the handle.

Alaska Young is smart.

Alaska Young is beautiful.

And then... she dies. Suicide. The final half of the book is dedicated to the sole cause of finding out why. Dedicated to Miles and the Colonel and Takumi just trying to get answers. Dedicated to WHY did Alaska die?! WHY didn't she swerve?! Why, why, why did she have to die, so fast that Miles Halter, the last boy she kissed and the lover of last words, couldn't even hear hers?

And in the end... they figure out. She was broken. She had been broken since she was seven years old.

Alaska Young was smart and beautiful and broken.

And Alaska was loved. By Miles, by the Colonel, by Lara, by the Eagle, by everyone, and by me myself. Because what Alaska said, and Auden before her, was and is true:
You shall love your crooked neighbor
With your crooked heart.
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Quotes Kat Liked

John Green
“Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“He was gone, and I did not have time to tell him what I had just now realized: that I forgave him, and that she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth. There were so many of us who would have to live with things done and things left undone that day. Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can’t know better until knowing better is useless. And as I walked back to give Takumi’s note to the Colonel, I saw that I would never know. I would never know her well enough to know her thoughts in those last minutes, would never know if she left us on purpose. But the not-knowing would not keep me from caring, and I would always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor, with all my crooked heart.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“What is an "instant" death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“Principled hate is a hell of a lot stronger than "Boy, I wish you hadn't mummified me and thrown me into the lake" hate.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“They love their hair because they're not smart enough to love something more interesting.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“When I look at my room, I see a girl who loves books.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid, and it hurts, but then it's over and you're relieved.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“Comment dis-tu 'Oh my God, I don't know nearly enough French to pass French II' en français?
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“The Colonel led all the cheers.
Cornbread!" he screamed.
CHICKEN!" the crowd responded.
Rice!"
PEAS!"
And then, all together: "WE GOT HIGHER SATs."
Hip Hip Hip Hooray!" the Colonel cried.
YOU'LL BE WORKIN' FOR US SOMEDAY!”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we'd learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffering when they did.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

John Green
“Meriwether Lewis's last words were, 'I am not a coward, but I am so strong. So hard to die.' I don't doubt that it is, but it cannot be much harder than being left behind.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska


Reading Progress

01/22/2009 page 157
61.33% "rating- PG13 for swearing, inappropriate-ness, alcohol, etc."
01/22/2009 page 161
62.89% "and now the question, the answer, the denial, and... the Great Perhaps, I think"
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Michael The reader isn't sure if Alaska killed herself or not. You made it seem like it was in black and white, but it wasn't. Anyways, I absolutely loved "Looking for Alaska"!


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