Looking for Alaska

by John Green

Hardcover, 2015

Call number



Dutton Books for Young Readers (2015), Edition: 10 Anv Spl, 368 pages


Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MickyFine
Miles Halter is a rather unimpressive teen with predilection for memorizing the last words of famous people. However, when he decides to leave his native Florida and go to Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama in search of the Great Perhaps (last words of Francois Rabelais), he meets the
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beautiful and mysterious Alaska Young who quickly alters his life beyond what he could have comprehended.

This novel is a brilliant mixture of humour, reflection, and insight. Miles' experiences in boarding school is filled with some truly entertaining pranks, profound statements on the nature of life, and the truly painful process of growing up. However, what is perhaps the best aspect of this novel is its exploration of how difficult it is to truly know any other person and that despite that difficulty other people are still capable of making deep changes in us. Beautiful, compelling, and entertaining, this novel is definitely worth experiencing.
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LibraryThing member sexy_librarian
A boy looking for meaning meets a girl who seems to have all the answers, but it isn't till she's gone that he realizes he didn't know her at all. The main character's quirk of knowing famous people's last words was interesting, and the pranks the students pull are hilarious (though not
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recommended). Somewhat depressing, a bit heavy handed, though very well written, I'd recommend this for high school students.
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LibraryThing member AshleyMarkeitaTate
Looking for Alaska is a wonderfully written book about Miles Halter's journey while attending a boarding school in Alabama. As a sort of loner, he meets interesting people that ultimately become his friends. He also meets "the hottest girl in all of human history," Alaska Young. Wild, smart, and
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carefree with a great personality, Alaska turns Miles' life around all in a short time. Miles starts to come out of his shell and learns to open up, but then, tragedy strikes. Miles and his friends set out to explore both how and why "the accident" takes place.

This book would be good to share with students. It could serve as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of alcohol. I'm unsure if students would be able to understand that though Miles and his friends had great times, there could be dangerous consequences to their fun. Miles seemed to be a follower and he was easily influenced by Chip (the Colonel) and Alaska. It would be important to decipher how if, perhaps, Miles and his friends had handled some things differently, some hardships may not have occurred. Helping students understand choices and what they may lead to is imperative. I would like to create a sort of board game based around the book. I would set it up like "The Game of Life" (one of my favorite board games) where students travel over different paths and end up having too see where they'd end up with some of the choices they'd pick.

This is honestly my new favorite book. In class, it seemed a lot of people read it over spring break and I was intrigued by the book trailers so I placed it on hold at the library and dug in. I was happy Miles started making friends and coming out of his shell, but I was not happy about the habits he'd picked up (drinking and smoking and just breaking the rules); I always kept thinking they'd be caught. The funny parts were the pranks they all pulled, definitely something I'd warn my students about, but it was still funny nonetheless. The last prank they pulled with the exotic dancer was hilarious and made me wish someone had thought of that during my high school assembly days! I shed tears, I laughed, I was puzzled...this book really is excellent!
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LibraryThing member WhitneyActon
This book is about a teen named Miles "Pudge" Halter who leaves his home in Florida to attend a boarding school, hoping to find a better life and new friends. While there, he is roomed withe Chip Martin, where he meets Alaska. Pudge becomes infatuated with Alaska, and they seem like they are going
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to get together until her life is dramatically cut short by a fatal car accident. Miles and Chip set out to see if she committed suicide or if it was accidental, as well as trying to find out why she left that night.
One teaching connection that I would definitely make with this book is the fact that it does use language all over the place. Although some may be offended by this (parents as well), I think that it is important to read literature that makes the characters realistic. In all reality, teenagers as well as adults alike use strong language. The reader should be able to notice how it characterizes the individual as well as the situation that they are in. Also, sexually is an important part of the novel. It is also important to realize the effect that it has on Pudge, even after Alaska is gone. The deep connections he feels for her were through sexuality, and it is important that readers learn that it an important factor in why he does go searching for answers surrounding her death.
I liked the book, as I think it kind of reminds me of the movie P. S. I Love You ( except much darker). While i think that the sexuality and the language that Green uses is absolutely necessary to bring the characters to life, even I blushed at some parts. I think this should definitely be reserved for older readers, especially if it is going to be discussed in the classroom
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LibraryThing member MalloryBatson
This book is about a boy named Miles Halter who moves to a preparatory school near Birmingham, AL. He becomes acquainted with his roommate, Chip "The Colonel" Martin. His roommate gives Miles the nickname Pudge, which is ironic because he is very skinny. Chip and Miles become good friends, and Chip
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introduces MIles to a girl named Alaska Young. Miles develops a crush on Alaska; however, she dates a college student, so MIles feels like he has no chance at dating her. Regardless, Miles, Chip, and Alaska become very good friends. They are rebellious, and they smoke and drink often. Alaska reveals a dark part in her life. Her mother died of a brain aneurysm, and Alaska did not call 911. She watched her mother die, and she blames herself for her mother's death. One night, Alaska, Lara, Miles, and Chip were drinking together on campus. Alaska got very drunk and upset. The dean was about to show up, so Miles and Chip told her to leave. Alaska was hysterical and quickly left. The next morning, the student body finds out that Alaska was killed in a car accident. Chip and Miles feel guilty for letting her leave, and they also wonder if she committed suicide or if it was an accident. They later find out that it was the anniversary of her mother's death. Miles also finds out that forgiveness is the only way out of the "labyrinth of suffering."

Two important themes from this book that teachers need to be able to discuss about with their class are the effects of consuming alcohol and how to deal with the loss of a loved one. These two themes are important topics throughout the book and are what the plot of this book is based off of. Alaska and her friends are in high school and drink often. Alaska is also killed in a car accident due to drunk driving. Therefore, I find it very important for the teacher to discuss with the class about the harmful effects of drinking alcohol. Furthermore, with this topic mentioned in the book, the teacher and class will be much more open to a class discussion. Students are faced with peer pressure all the time, especially in the adolescent years. Therefore, it is very important for teachers to be knowledgeable and open to class discussions on this subject. Another topic in this book is dealing with the loss of a loved one. This topic is very touchy, and no one person deals with grief in the same way. However, everyone must grieve, and they must do so in a positive way. Many people, such as Alaska, learn to cope by putting their focus on negative things. Alaska smokes and drinks often.She probably does this to get her mind off of the loss of her mother. However, alcohol is a depressant; therefore, she is only intensifying her pain. Everyone must learn to deal with pain and loss in positive ways. Therefore, it is crucial for teachers to be able to help students who are struggling with the loss of a loved one. Also, this book provides both teachers and students to come up with various ways to deal with these types of situations.

I really enjoyed this book becauseI found the material very realistic to lives of teenagers today. So many teenagers are exposed to smoking and drinking. Also, many adolescents are faced with loss, guilt, and shame. This book reminded me somewhat of a book I recently read called Happy Face. These books are similar because in both books, a high school student is killed in a drunk driving accident, and their friends and family are left to suffer. However, at the end of both books, peace is found within their friends, so they can truly move forward from their loss. I would recommend this book for adolescent readers eighth grade and up. I feel like some of the material might be too much for younger readers. I feel like parents would need to give permission for younger students to read it. I would definitely have this book in my classroom library or require it in a literature circle.
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LibraryThing member erinbreland
I must say this is the best book I have read in a very long time. The book is about a group of teenagers and the main three are the colonel (chip), Pudge (miles), and Alaska. They all attend a boarding school in Alabama and Pudge is the new kid at school. Pudge comes to this school looking for "the
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great perhaps" and he believes that he finds it in Alaska and the Colonel. Pudge is from Florida and at his old school nobody really knew who he was or even his name and he is hoping to change his image at his new school. The book is about all of the adventures, mishaps, scandles, and relationships that develope over a years time, Pudges first year on campus. I am not going to say anymore because i will give away the whole book.
I do believe that this book can be used in classrooms but much older classrooms because the language is pretty awful. The book would actually be great for 11th and 12th graders because each character in the book is looking for meaning in their life and wondering why they are on this earth to begin with. Although they never really find these answers they all seem to discover many things about themselves and each other along the way and you can see the characters really mature and open up as the book pregresses.
THis book is awesome!!!!!!!!! And if u haven't read it then you are missing out! I loved this book and that is my honest opinion and I also wish that I had had the oppurtunity to read it in high school. It is just a great book all the way around, with the exception of some of the language.
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LibraryThing member KelliSingleton
Looking for Alaska is about a High school Teenager named Miles Halter. Miles is sent to a boarding school in Alabama. Miles wasn’t that popular until he met his roommate, Chip. Chip gave Miles the nick name, Pudge. They instantly became friends. Pudge also met a girl named Alaska. Pudge started
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to gain deep feelings for Alaska. Alaska was the “wild” child I guess you could say. Pudge, Alaska, and Chip were always drinking and smoking. One night Alaska, Chip, and Pudge get really drunk, resulting in the death of Alaska. Pudge and Miles will live with the guilt of her death. They are on a mission to see how she really died drinking and driving? Or suicide?

One main teaching connection could be how harmful “drinking and driving” is. I think any mature person should read this book. This book is extreamly vivid. It will open up the readers eyes. I think that it could teach high school students that drinking isn’t always safe. Although the language in this book is bad, I think that it would teach high school kids a strong lesson.

I really enjoyed this book. It was one of those books that I wanted to keep reading and reading. It is a great novel for anyone that can handle the language.
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LibraryThing member PaigeMcIlwain
Looking for Alaska is told from the perspective of Miles Halter. He moves to Culver Creek boarding school his junior year of high school. There, he joins a daring group of friends, Colonel, Takumi, Lara, and most importantly, Alaska. These friends introduce Miles to a lifestyle that he has never
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known which includes smoking, drinking and pranking. Miles has been searching for "the Great Perhaps," and he is beginning to find that at Culver Creek. Alaska plays a major role in this, and Miles finds himself falling in love. Unfortunately, all of the risk taking leds to a fatal accident one night, and Miles along with friends must learn to cope with their loss. In order to do this, they must first find answers, but this will take all of them working together.

I would be careful about using this book with adolescents. It has some very mature themes that not all adolescents would be comfortable with and that not all parents would approve of. As a result, this book would be more appropriate to use with older high school students as opposed to middle school students. Miles has a slight obsession with the last words of people, so this book might be a good way to introduce historical characters. In addition, Miles is exposed to different religions in one of his classes at Culver Creek. The details mentioned in the book might help students transition into talking about the culture of these different religions. Although I would definitely censor the use of this book, it does contain some helpful material to use in a classroom.

This book was an atypical story that broke past boundaries. I loved the character Miles. He was obsessed with the last words of people; however, he had never actually lived himself. Although Alaska and the Colonel may not treat Miles like typical friends treat one another, they are helping him to truly live. This group of friends truly care for each other, and this is evident as they take the fall for one another in front of their administrator, the Eagle. The people and event in this book are not always perfect nor happy, but that is part of what makes it such a compelling story.
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LibraryThing member MelissaOdette
This book is a very easy book to get into.It explains exactly what is going on. the book is about a boy who transfers to a private school.In highschool he was an outcast. He didn't fit in with any group or 'click" at school. Once he moves into the private school, his roomate 'warmly' opens up to
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him. They become very best friends, but that group of friends are the so called 'trouble makers'. In his new group of friends there is a gril named Alaska. The main character is highly attracted to her. Throughout the first half of the book is when he is trying to get with Alaska. The second half of the book is after the 'incedent'
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LibraryThing member bookappeal
This teen drama injected with humor contains some entertaining dialog but the characters are simply not very interesting and Alaska is downright unlikable. She's beautiful and elusive which is enough for Pudge, the main character, but insufficient for the reader to care what happens to her late in
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the story. Pudge's journey to find acceptance among his peers may resonate with teens but, on the other hand, these kids attend a small boarding school where life is distinctly unlike life at most public high schools.
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LibraryThing member sbenne3
I think my expectations were too high because I read this right after The Fault in Our Stars which I fell completely in love with. That said, I still like this author's writing style and character development and this was a good book. I love the idea around the Great Perhaps and the final essay in
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the last chapter. I will keep thinking about this book for a few days - a sign of a good read.
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LibraryThing member tinasnyderrn
Another awesome read borrowed from my daughter Elizabeth Snyder. This is a very good story about high school students who are dealing with grief...trying to find the answers to why a certain event happened and how to move on past this event. A very good read. Would like to read more from this
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LibraryThing member tap_aparecium
When I put this book down, particularly "after", I found myself thinking of it. I applied its questions to my day to day life. I saw the world, the labyrinth, in a different way than I had before I'd began page one. Even after finishing the novel I still think of it and Alaska's most important
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question. I thought of it today when I saw a white flower; the smallest petals and colors can have the most significance in a mystery. I love how Alaska's decisions still kept their ambiguity in the end. Because really, how much can we know another?
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LibraryThing member theWallflower
Every once in a while, along comes a book that you can't put down. That puts a character in your head you can't help but fall in love with. A book that does everything simply, but never THAT simply. A book that gives you everything you need, but leaves you wanting more. Like a restaurant that has
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the best food ever -- you leave satisfied, but you're sad you can't eat anymore.

Pudge (an ironic nickname) is our main character, and he has selected to go to boarding school in order to seek a loftier experience than his current education allows. The author never tells you why this happened, what the character's motivation is in doing this, or much of his past history at all. That bothered me at first, but I came to understand that's not the point of the story. The point of the story is the friends Pudge makes, including Alaska Youngman (same Alaska as in the title).

The book is divided into halves with an ominous countdown to the split-point, and no clue as to what said countdown is counting down to. In the first half of the book... well, basically, all I can say is, I wanted to be there. I wanted to have friends like the scheming Colonel, the beat-boxing Takashi, the cute foreign exchange student Pudge is set up with, and the crush on the unattainable Alaska. I wanted to go to this school, be these people's friends, and live this person's life. I wanted to live in this world.

The second half... well, I can't talk about that.

It shares a lot of the same themes and motifs that "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" does. The same YA setting with the unrequited crush, lovable best friend, observant main character, and g/f who doesn't work out. But it's not the same story, not by a long shot. Let me just say this. I got this book from the library. Then I bought it, because I loved it that much.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
Loved this book. I'd been wanting to read it for quite some time & finally got around to it on audio. Once again, Jeff Woodman as the narrator did a superb job, and not sure I would've loved it as much had I not done the audio. But then again, maybe I would've. I enjoyed John Green's writing and he
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did a great job of portraying teenage angst. The climax of the book hits roughly in the middle of the story, with the first half referred to as the "before" and the second half referred to as the "after", and in this case, I think it worked well. The story provokes a lot of thought & contemplation, and interpretation as well. I'd love to do this as a group read in order to discuss it. I loved the protagonist's infatuation with last words, and especially loved the whole notion of "the Great Perhaps" (Francois Rabelais). Highly recommend this one!
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LibraryThing member KamGeb
While it was an interesting book, it bothered me that all the characters were jerks. All they seemed to do was drink, smoke, and have sex.
LibraryThing member SarahCoil
Miles Halter has a passion for last words. He goes to boarding school in Alabama where he meets Alaska. He is going here to “seek his great perhaps”. Here, he meets Alaska Young. He has a huge crush on her and it grows throughout the story. He is involved in a crowd that engages in dangerous
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activities such as drinking. Alaska dies in a car accident on the same night as her mother’s death and it is questioned whether it was an accident or suicide.

In a classroom, I would have students discuss the dangers of alcohol and how it causes dangerous situations. I would also have students research alcohol related statistics. I would do this to help students realize how dangerous it can be, especially behind the wheel of a car.

I liked this book. I liked how the characters seemed to portray a lot of teenagers. However, the habits that Miles “Pudge” picked up a long the way were not very good and this made me a little frustrated. The content may be too mature to teach to some students.
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LibraryThing member AllisonBates
1. In Looking for Alaska, Miles Halter leaves his parents in Florida to seek out the “Great Perhaps” at a boarding school in Alabama. Here, Miles befriends his roommate, called “The Colonel,” an Asian boy named Takumi, and a gorgeous girl whose attractiveness captivates so many, Alaska
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Young. Though his parents would consider this “the wrong crowd,” Miles’ friends become his family, his outlet, and his connection for learning about the world. Soon the young narrator is involved in smoking, drinking, and promiscuity, along with a plethora of general rule breaking activities. However, he feels at home as he comes to understand people and their motivations better. He cannot help but fall for the dangerously attractive Alaska, and finally grasps his opportunity to make out with her before her tragic car accident. The book is divided into “before” and “after” this accident, and after Alaska’s death Miles and The Colonel delve into a search for what really happened on the night Alaska Young ran her car into a police officer after drinking her logic away.
2. This story was one that very vividly described every bit of teen activity parents warn (and often threaten) their children to stay far away from. Such reality can open discussion in the classroom as to what actions were moral and immoral for the characters. Additionally, there were many, MANY references to other works of literature and historical figures in the novel. Students could be given assignments to choose their favorite to research, and then share with the class. Creative writing could be another classroom application, as students could be instructed to write exactly what happened to Alaska Young the night she died, possibly even from her point of view. Foreshadowing and context clues lessons can also be implemented.
3. Looking for Alaska was a book that, though containing an intriguing storyline, is one I absolutely would not approach for classroom use. Even for a student to read on their own would require extensive permission from their parents. The sexual content was vivid and out right, as well as the drinking and smoking activity in adolescents. Furthermore, such content and activity was not looked down upon, but upheld and glorified in the text. From the point of view of a teacher trying to avoid a censorship battle, despite personal moral viewpoints, this is a book that should simply be left alone in the adolescent classroom. Though there are things to learn from it, as stated above, the negative repercussions of introducing it to young adults is entirely too risky. As for myself, I would never allow my own teenager to read this, no matter how much they understood about the content and language already; exposing them to such manners of activity in a way that condones it is simply not advisable from a parental standpoint.
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LibraryThing member BrOoKe03
Miles Halter was headed to attend the same boarding school that his father had once attended. He was ready to leave Florida and find a the "Great Perhaps" in Alabama. Upon arriving, he met the Colonel, Takumi, and the lovely Alaska Young. In Florida, Miles (Pudge) did not have many friends, but
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here he found his place. As time went on, Miles fell for Alaska as most guys did. There were many different groups there and each played pranks on the other, and sometimes they played pranks on the Eagle. Drinking and smoking became a big part of their lives. One night they had all been drinking, but Alaska was highly intoxicated. All at once she fell apart; after getting Miles and the Colonel to cover for her, she got in her car and left. She had forgotten about her mother; every year she put flowers on her mother's grave and she had forgotten. Alaska was so upset and so intoxicated that she drove straight into a police car killing her at once. Weeks later, Takumi, Pudge (Miles) and the Colonel decided to pull the prank that Alaska had thought up before she died. It would be the prank that topped all others. Afterward, the entire school knew that even though she was gone, Alaska had created the best prank Culver Creek Boarding School had ever seen.

I do not know how I would discuss this novel with my students. As a teacher, I would not even want my seniors to read this novel. If I asked my students to read this novel, it would give them the message that I approve of all the inappropriate things the novel discussed. I understand that young people partake in sexual activities and alcohol and smoking, but as a teacher, I could not hand them a novel to read such as this because I do not approve of any of it. I believe this novel should be for adults only. I do not like this novel for the level it is written; I believe it is completely inappropriate.
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LibraryThing member ijustgetbored
Green's novel gives us a truly memorable cast of characters, each with their own distinct voice and personality. That in itself is rare enough in YA fiction. He then mixes them together in boarding school life, throws in some family trauma (though I do ask: why is it the scholarship students only
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who seem to have emotionally difficult backgrounds?), lots of sarcasm, a tradition of pranks-- and leaves us to sort it all out. His "countdown" device of chapter/section headings makes the reader all too aware that some tragedy is coming their way, inextricably, but all are blind to it. That, in itself, is a lesson. The count back up shows us that there is time for healing, but that healing is a working-through, a process, and that we should not take adolescent grief lightly.

In fact, we should not take any adolescent emotion lightly. These are not superficial raging hormones. Yes, this may be a time in which the characters feel things particularly intensely, but Green shows us that this intensity has its own depths. Certainly, there are a few shallow people at the time of the tragedy, and Miles, our narrator, points them out. But Miles and his group are not shallow, and they are determined to make meaning out of tragedy; they are still young enough to believe that death must intrinsically have discernable meaning (witness Miles' obsession with last words).

This is a powerful book, one that will slam you in the solar plexus. Miles' group may not be popular, but don't expect perfect behavior of them; smoking, sex, and swearing are integrated into daily life. Vitality blooms and surges on every page, and when that vitality is cut off, we find our countdown-countup plot.
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LibraryThing member megan_henley
Miles Halter leaves his safe life in Florida to attend boarding school in Alabama. His whole life he has been a loner with few friends. What he finds in Alabama are friendships of a lifetime and adventures he will never forget. He meets a girl named Alaska Young and she quickly steals his heart.
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Smoking and drinking by the water hole was a regular activity and playing late night pranks, until one night a drunk driving incident turned Miles' life upside down.

I personally would not choose this book to read with my students. There was a lot of sex, drinking, smoking, and cussing throughout the book. I know that all of these are issues with high schoolers, but I do not see any way of teaching this book to a group of kids.

Though I do not see this as a book to teach to students, I would recommend reading Looking for Alaska. It was a sweet, fun love story with a heart wrenching twist. The friendships and fun times Miles experiences are so much like the things actual high school students do. I enjoyed this book even though it was a little heart breaking at times.
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LibraryThing member Aerthos
A great read and one I would recommend to readers of all ages. Simply a good coming-of-age story about life and the ways in which we deal with things.
LibraryThing member tmaslyk
Beautifully written, unexpected love and loss story.
LibraryThing member Rhinoa
Miles starts a new boarding school and makes friends with the Colonel and Alaska Young. He has a penchant for memorising the last recorded words of famous people. He led a lonely life before joinin Culver Creek and although he isn't one of the popular rich kids, he makes close friendships and finds
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his own place. They form their own small gang and enjoy pulling pranks on their fellow students.

There is a before and after section but I won't say why. All I will say is that it is a pivotal point in the book (it's not really a secret and is alluded to on many occassion but still) and it leads the boys on to looking into the mystery of Alaska. Miles gets the ironic nickname "Pudge" and pretty much immediately falls in love with Alaska. She is so out of his league though and has a serious boyfriend. He dates another girl Lara for a while but it is doomed for failure.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was very like Catcher in the Rye but more modern. The characters were really well developed and I enjoyed spending time with them all on their adventures and pranks. It's a coming of age novel with heart, sex, drinking, sadness and the exploits of youth. It got some negative feedback due to language and sexual content which I think is unjustified. There was nothing out of the bounds of the ordinary that I could see really happening. I look forward to seeing if they make a film version which I think is due for release in 2013.
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LibraryThing member skaohee
Looking for Alaska is a book that I wish I would have read during my junior or senior year of high school. Heck, even the summer before college or right when I got to college. I think it is a perfect read for someone who is between the ages of 16 and 18, when most people are going through this
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awkward phase of halfway between a kid and a young adult. However I will say that having read it at the age of 23, not only did I completely understand where the narrator, Miles, was coming from, but I felt like I appreciated this book so much more than I would have at 16.

This was my second John Green book and I have to say that I really admire his writing style. It's gets to you - right at your heart. And it's fantastic.

While this book is very mature (content wise), I would recommend to an older teen who is looking for a good read. And I would definitely recommend it to people out there who think Young Adult literature is "childish" so that they can eat their words.
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Audie Award (Finalist — 2007)
LA Times Book Prize (Finalist — Young Adult Literature — 2005)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades 9-12 — 2006)




052542802X / 9780525428022
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