Monday, October 24, 2011

Looking for Alaska

First friend. First girl. Last words.

A deeply affecting coming-of-age story, Looking for Alaska traces the journey of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager who leaves the safety of home for a boarding school in Alabama and a chance to explore the "Great Perhaps." Debut novelist and NPR commentator Green perfectly captures the intensity of feeling and despair that defines adolescence in this hip, shocking, and emotionally charged work of fiction.

Miles has a quirky interest in famous people's last words, especially François Rabelais's final statement, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." Determined not to wait for death to begin a similar quest, Miles convinces his parents to let him leave home. Once settled at Culver Creek Preparatory School, he befriends a couple of equally gifted outcasts: his roommate Chip―commonly known as the Colonel—who has a predilection for memorizing long, alphabetical lists for fun; and the beautiful and unpredictable Alaska, whom Miles comes to adore.

The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like "forty-six days before" and "the last day" portend a tragic event―one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished "Great Perhaps."

This was one of those books.

One of those books where I can acknowledge that it has faults--it's his debut novel, how could it not?--, where I can acknowledge that this could've been even better than it was, yet it was so moving, so powerful, so thought-provoking and beautiful, that you ignore those faults.  It's not that you forget them; if asked, I could still produce a few things that might've been changed.  No, it's just that they don't seem significant anymore. Faults? Who cares about faults? Alaska had faults. Alaska had many faults, and that was what made her Alaska. These faults are what make this book Looking for Alaska, and its beauty and overall message are what make this a five star book. A must read. A classic.

I will leave you with this:

“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.” 


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