Turtles All the Way Down

by John Green

Hardcover, 2017

Call number



Dutton Books for Young Readers (2017), Edition: First Edition, 304 pages


Young Adult Fiction. Young Adult Literature. HTML:FEATURED ON 60 MINUTES and FRESH AIR �??So surprising and moving and true that I became completely unstrung.�?� �?? The New York Times Named a best book of the year by: The New York Times, NPR, TIME, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, Publishers Weekly, BookPage, A.V. Club, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Vulture, and many more! JOHN GREEN, the acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, returns with a story of shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship. Aza Holmes never intended to pursue the disappearance 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 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 he… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member seasonsoflove
There are times when you pick up a book at the exact time you need it. This was one of those times, and this was one of those books.

In John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, we meet Aza, a sixteen year old consumed by anxiety and obsessive compulsive thoughts, feeling forced by her own brain to
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focus on the bacteria that surround her and the bacteria she knows are inside her, an absolute all-consuming compulsion that compels her to reopen a cut on her fingerpad over and over to make sure it is clean and not infected.

When a billionaire goes missing, on the run because of shady things he's done with his money, Aza finds herself and her best friend drawn into the mystery, because of the reward, but also because of Aza's past connection with the fugitive's son, Davis. As Aza is drawn into the seemingly infinite and and completely overwhelming spirals of her own mind, she struggles to hold onto herself and the relationships she has formed.

Aza is so so painfully and amazingly real. Green has done a masterful and important thing by making her the first person narrator of her own story. I needed and need Aza, as I am sure so many readers did and do. I picked this book up not only because of glowing recommendations from people I care about, but also because I needed it. I am in the midst of my own work on my own anxiety disorder and depression, especially following the loss of my beloved dog, and while it is nowhere near where Aza finds herself, there is still so much in the book I could relate to, so much I needed to hear put into words. Green understands it so well because he's been there, and is still there, and this allows him to write with such honesty. He tells a story that needs to be told, because it makes all of us out there who can relate feel and know we are not alone. And that there is nothing to be ashamed of, no need to hide--a best-selling author has put out a best-selling book that tells our truth--and who we are is important, and valid, and makes us no less than anyone around us.

It is so rare to find a book that you keep nodding your head along to, that you feel every word in your heart, that resonates so strongly, and that makes you feel uplifted in your soul. This was one of those books for me. I recommend it with my whole heart, and with my spiraling, but beautiful, mind.
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LibraryThing member lauralkeet
Aza Holmes suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), convinced that powerful bacteria have infested her body and will kill her. On good days, she’s a typical if somewhat introverted adolescent. But when intrusive thoughts take over, she retracts into a thought spiral that even
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her best friend Daisy cannot penetrate. When this intrepid pair decides to investigate the disappearance of a billionaire businessman, Aza reconnects with the man’s son Davis, whom she met at a summer camp several years before. Their childhood bonds develop into something stronger, but Aza finds it nearly impossible to conduct herself in ways that teens would consider “normal.” Her friendship with Daisy also begins to suffer, and Aza’s mom is worried sick about her.

John Green has previously demonstrated masterful ability to capture the adolescent psyche; here, the storylines of amateur sleuthing and romance are appealing and fun to read. But in Turtles all the Way Down, Green also writes from compelling personal experience, showing what it’s like to live with OCD and its impact both on the individual and everyone they care about. Much of this story is told from inside Aza’s head, complete with competing internal monologues. When Aza begins to lose her grip, Green delivers a dramatic and emotional account of OCD’s complete control over Aza, and it’s like you’re right there in the middle of it with her.

With Turtles all the Way Down, John Green is doing important consciousness-raising about the crippling nature of OCD, anxiety, and other mental illnesses which are too often hidden from view. Reading this has made me more aware of anxiety-related behaviors in people I care about, and more sympathetic to what may be going on inside of them.
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LibraryThing member EBT1002
"The way he talked about thoughts was the way I experienced them -- not as a choice but as a destiny. Not a catalog of my consciousness but a refutation of it."

"I like short poems with weird rhyme schemes, because that's what life is like."

Aza is sixteen and suffers from OCD. She and her Best and
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Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, happen upon some information relating to the disappearance of a local billionaire and decide to investigate. After all, there is a $100K reward for information leading to his whereabouts and subsequent prosecution for illegal financial activity. Their adventure leads them to the billionaire's son, Davis, who has been left to care for his younger brother. The plot shifts then; the search for the billionaire father is somewhat tabled and the developing relationships among these young people becomes much more the focus. The mystery of the missing man lurks in the background and serves as an anchor around which the story can spiral but this is not a mystery story. It's a rich story of life as a teenager and a compassionate portrayal of mental illness.

All these teenagers are smart. All of them have lost parents. And all of them are good-hearted and all of them are confused by the crazy adult world swirling around them. Aza's narrative voice is compelling, her terror at the thought of succumbing to some terrible infection and her inability to stop. thinking. about. it! is so brilliantly presented by Green. Daisy is clever and direct and hilarious. She's exactly the best friend anyone would want to have. And Davis is a lonely young man isolated from the world by his father's wealth.

I couldn't put this book down. I absolutely loved it.
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LibraryThing member KatiBruneau
This novel was absolutely beautiful. As usual, John Green does not disappoint. For someone who does not generally enjoy romance or too much YA in my literary diet, I could not eat this up more. I work as a therapist for individuals with mental health. It is often very difficult for people to put
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into words what they are experiencing. But, John/Aza captures it perfectly. So many novels glorify mental illness, make it sound quirky or interesting. But, in reality it is draining to you and your friends and keeps you from pursuing your dreams. You may have all the tools in your toolbox and it’s still impossible to overcome, the idea of medication being terrifying, but the idea of being stagnant can be even worse. The only thing I would have wanted to know more about is what lead to Aza developing OCD.

The book is extremely well written and entertaining. There are fun facts at every corner and quotes to make your think. I always love a book that makes me want to stop and copy down paragraphs, ideas, or quotes to remember to go back to as much as I want to keep reading. I just hope it won’t be too long before johns next book. Any hope for a non-YA book?
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
Almost against her will, Aza is dragged into the mystery of a missing billionaire, all while managing her anxiety and finding her way through the confusing territory of first love.

Well, first of all, it's John Green. So, if you have read and enjoyed more than one of his books, you'll probably want
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to read this one, too. I'm a fan, obviously -- but I also think that this one is perhaps Green's most honest work to date. One criticism that I've read of Green's work is that the characters don't speak like normal teens, but I didn't feel that that was the case in this book -- sure, they have the occasional esoteric discussion of human consciousness and great literature, but that didn't overwhelm the story for me, in this case. I also appreciate the way Green handles the main character's mental illness. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member theWallflower
John Green's latest. How could I not read? If you're looking for a remix of "The Fault in Our Stars", this is not it. It's not a romance. It takes the romance elements out and focuses more on the character's disease. Only this time it's not cancer, it's compulsion disorder/intrusive thoughts. A
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mental illness that the main character neglects to resolve.

The primary plot driver is extremely unimportant, so there won't be a lot of twists and events. What exists is the thin thread of mystery--the lugubriously rich father of an old childhood friend disappears to escape indictment. Our two heroines hope to find him and earn a reward. Our POV character is not the main driver of this story--that's her friend. But it retains the same peculiarity and quirkiness that Green is good at. It's closer to "Paper Towns", but minus the insufferable pining over a crazy girl. Green also fixes the mistake where his teenagers speak way over their vocabulary range, like college freshman milking every damn page from a thesaurus to sound smart on an English paper (e.g. Augustus Waters).

It's more of a character study, like "Looking for Alaska" was. In that, the pathology was someone with an unredeemable crush on a real-life MPDG. Her, it's someone broken by anxiety and mental illness, self-centered (not because of ego, but because OCD does that to a person) and unable to have relationships because of that. Green says that the best thing you can get from books is to "imagine humans complexly" and I think he does just that in a package that's fun to open.

Will it become a classic? I wish I could say it's likely, but I wouldn't believe that myself. It probably won't make you cry, but it will make you understand. And I think that's a better achievement.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
Aza is a teen struggling with OCD. When the millionaire father of acquaintance Davis Pickett goes missing as a suspected fugitive, she & her best friend Daisy attempt to investigate in order to have a chance at the $100,000 reward money for his return.

John Green has become one of my favorite
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authors. His characters are witty and his novels are filled with lots of great quotes. In addition, many of his stories are set in or around his hometown of Indianapolis, which make them easily relatable to fellow Hoosiers such as myself. This particular novel takes on a somewhat more serious tone, as Green attempts to tackle and bring to light the thought spirals & struggles of someone with OCD, a condition he readily admits to struggling with himself.

I enjoyed this novel, though admittedly was not swept away by it as I was with his previous The Fault in Our Stars. In this one, Green's characters deal with several different challenges, including the obvious OCD issues, but also with the death of a loved one, the fear of abandonment, and a little bit of mystery thrown in as well. Though this is not really a lengthy novel, I read it in small chunks over a period of time and developed a gradual enjoyment of the story rather than a sudden, all-consuming I-must-keep-reading-and-finish-it-now frame of mind. As stated above, there are still lots of great quotes in this one and the characters have some unique quirks and personalities. While not my favorite book of Green's, it does rank in the top 3. The verdict still seems to be out on whether or not Green will continue writing novels, but I certainly hope he does so.
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LibraryThing member Lindsay_W
Green succeeds in getting us to feel what it is like to be lost in the darkness of a mental illness while still believing there is hope for a positive outcome. Only someone who has themselves been caught in the downward spiral of uncontrollable thoughts could write about it so eloquently. I thought
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it was lovely that Green thanked his own mental health support team in the credits. This will go a long way to ending the stigma of mental illness and of taking medications to treat them.
“Maybe you don’t chose what’s in the picture, but you decide on the frame.”
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LibraryThing member readaholic12
Another brilliantly written book by one of my favorite authors. Turtles All the Way Down is an unprecedented look at teen mental illness, friendship, love and life that manages to be both funny and heartbreaking, and educational too. I read the book in one sitting, stopped to cry and laugh a few
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times, peppered it with sticky notes for passages to revisit and I am certain I will be re-reading it soon. I couldn't have asked for more from a book, except for it not to end. Thank you, John Green, for sharing such a personal glimpse into your head, and for helping those who struggle to feel more normal.

ps If you've ever lived in Indianapolis, and especially if you've ever walked Pogue's Run, this book is even sweeter.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
A new direction for John Green that did not disappoint. Reminded me heavily of Matthew Quick's teen novels dealing with mental illness. My only beef is that the main character Aza, seemed very... non-gendered. I literally did not realize she was a female until a chapter or two in. I don't know if
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it's because John Green is a male writer or he intentionally left her pretty gender neutral, but Aza's only defining qualities and personality was her her mental illness. I didn't get much other feel for her. I'm not even saying I wanted her girly, I just wanted to have more of a sense for her. The story follows Aza and her best friend as they go on a quest to find a rich old white man who has run away from the cops. There is a hundred thousand dollar reward and they feel pretty confident that they could turn up a lead or two. After all they kind of know his son. The story is filled with friendship, mental illness, romance, class privilege, loss of loved ones, beautiful words, and levity. Another solid from the king of teen.
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LibraryThing member mcelhra
Turtles All the Way Down is John Green’s first book in six years. I know that John was worried that he couldn’t write a book that would be as good as The Fault in Our Stars but he needn’t have. I think Turtles All the Way Down is actually better than The Fault in Our Stars. I was never fully
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on board with the almost zaniness of the subplot with Hazel’s favorite author in TFIOS. Turtles All the Way Down’s subplot of the missing billionaire (see further down) was more realistic.

Turtles All the Way Down is the story of Aza, a high school girl with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or ODC. Her OCD manifests itself in the form of obsessive thought spirals. Once she starts thinking about certain things, she goes into a thought spiral that can be nearly impossible to come back out of. They mostly center on imagining that harmful bacteria has somehow gotten into her body and will lead to her getting clostridium difficile (C. diff) and eventually dying.

When Russell Pickett, a billionaire who lives in the same town as Aza, goes missing, Aza and her best friend Daisy set out to search for clues regarding his disappearance, hoping that they will be able to collect the $100,000 reward being offered for information leading to his whereabouts. Along the way, Aza renews her childhood friendship with Russell’s son Davis.

Russell’s disappearance in the book is secondary to how the book explores how Aza’s OCD affects her relationship with herself and with her friends. Each one is a struggle in its own way. I’ve read things from several people with OCD who say that John writes the internal dialogue of someone with OCD in the most accurate way they’ve every read. Even though I don’t personally suffer from it, I can see why they would say that. I felt like I had a much better understanding of the mental illness after reading this book. John has OCD himself so I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why he could be so descriptive with Aza’s thoughts.

I highly recommend this book, as well as pretty much anything by John Green. Read his books, watch his vlogbrothers videos, and listen to the Dear Hank and John podcast. Become obsessed like me!
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LibraryThing member jennyo
Finished Turtles All the Way Down last night. John Green is wonderful. The book is really good, as you'd expect from Green. I'd especially like to recommend it to parents of kids who suffer from any sort of anxiety or depression. I think it might help you understand your child a little better. (And
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isn't that what good books always do? Help our empathy?)

I was struck most of all by the bit that said that the O is the most debilitating part of OCD, but because it's invisible, we tend to focus on the C. I think after reading this book, I understand that a little better than I used to.
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LibraryThing member SheilaCornelisse
This story follows a few plot lines - 16-year-old Aza's anxiety disorder and COD which causes her to obsess about getting C Difficile from contact with human germs; the relationship between Aza and her best friend Daisy whose world revolves around Star Wars' fan fiction; and the relationship
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between Aza and Davis, the son of a billionaire. All of their world's collide when Davis' father is suspected of corruption and disappears. Daisy is eager to solve the mystery and obtain the reward. Knowing that Aza once knew Davis at summer camp, Daisy convinces Aza to re-establish the relationship. What develops is a complicated love between Aza and Davis which can only be doomed as Aza's COD interfers, and the girls get closer to solving the mystery of Davis' father's disappearance. An effective look it the spiralling mind of a teenager battling a mental illness, and the positive effects of a strong support system. A recommended read.
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LibraryThing member PeskyLibrary
Turtles All the Way Down is another well done YA book from author John Green. He has a knack for creating exaggerated yet real characters that readers can really empathize with, and Aza in this novel is no different. She suffers from debilitating OCD and anxiety that feels incredibly real as she
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attempts to navigate the normal teenage landscape of friends, school and boys. It is no surprise that Green suffers from these conditions himself, and he finds a way to describe her emotional pain and interior struggles that reads very true. Most of the side characters and situations are classic YA, but somehow Green still makes them funny, painful, and an enjoyable read.

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LibraryThing member JillKenna
I really liked this book. I think it is my favorite of his so far.
LibraryThing member kimkimkim
A compelling and heartbreaking read about teenage mental illness. The spiral down, the spiral tightens – John Green has managed to describe Aza’s illness with such clarity that I felt as if I was in her head. Unfortunately, I became so absorbed in the illness that I lost the story.
LibraryThing member SBoren
I won this book in an Instagram contest. Thank you @k.e.radke for having this GIVEAWAY! All opinions are my own. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. 16 year old Aza battles demons inside herself that no one else could possibly see or understand, not her best friend, her mom,
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her boyfriend, no one. And her mother could someone please help that woman get a clue.......it isn't until a huge fight, an accident and the world turns upside down that Aza has a major meltdown that anyone realizes just how much pressure they applied to her being well causes more damage. A spiral that can only allow one way direction opens to new spirals. Like the turtles described at the seminar in this book. An amazing read. Review also posted on Instagram @jasonnstacie, Goodreads/StacieBoren, and my blog at readsbystacie.com
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LibraryThing member lindamamak
Not as good as good as Fault in our Stars-- deep look into how mental health affects our young adults.
LibraryThing member dmbkel41
Gah, what a great read. John Green is able to describe feelings so so well, and I found myself nodding and wanting to highlight passages because of how much I related or knew someone who would appreciate the same words. Wanted another 100 pages and felt it could have used it, but JG didn't
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disappoint here.
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LibraryThing member voracious
Aza is a teenage girl with severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which causes her to ruminate obsessively over diseases and microorganisms in her body. Although she has a relatively comfortable life with her mother and a close relationship with her best friend, Daisy, Aza struggles day to day to
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avoid her "intrusive" thoughts. When a past friend of Aza's [Davis] becomes headline news, due to his billionaire father's disappearance, the girls launch their own investigation to find clues in the hope they can win a reward. Their plans change as they start hanging out with Davis, however, with Aza's romantic interest in Davis leading to an increase in her intrusive thoughts.

This was not my favorite John Green novel and I quickly tired of Aza's redundant and repetitively-described intrusive thoughts. I also thought the storyline of Davis' father was very strange and unnecessary to the plot. While I enjoyed the intellectual dialogue common to Green's other books, overall, I thought the story wasn't warm enough or fulfilling enough to warrant Aza's chronically-described neurotic struggles.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
Although this isn’t my favorite John Green book, as usual, he gives me lots to think about and how mental illness and extreme anxiety can impact a person’s life. He writes with honesty, giving me a look at issues I need to understand better. He allowed me to have empathy wit a teen-ager I might
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have ignored.
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LibraryThing member Stewart_Hoffman
The cover copy is a little deceiving, as this is less a mystery and more a character study and meditation on mental illness. Once I realized where this was going, I was able to tune in and enjoy it, a lot. This is thoughtful, funny, and at times, incredibly moving. Turtles All the Way Down
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eventually got under my skin, and after I got half way through it, I couldn’t put it down.
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LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
At the heart of this story is a teenage girl with anxiety issues. Sometimes we tend to downplay how crippling that can be in real life and how it is often part of a larger mental health problem. Though I had trouble "suspending disbelief" for some parts of the story, it did made me think more about
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what it must be like living with mental health issues. However, recommending it to someone with anxiety issues could have a negative effect rather than an encouraging one, so that should be kept in mind.
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LibraryThing member Shelby_Kuzma
The first John Green book I ever read was The Fault in Our Stars during my senior year of high school, quickly followed by all of his other books in the next two weeks after that. And then I waited [not so] patiently for about five years for another book to come out.
Turtles All the Way Down
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follows Aza, a high school student living with obsessive compulsive disorder, as she attempts to cope with her mental illness while solving the mystery of a local missing billionaire (whose son Davis just happens to be an old acquaintance of hers). This leads to some complicated situations- due to her OCD Aza becomes very self-absorbed, affecting her friendships. Her newfound relationship with Davis is compromised by the fact that he believes Aza has only reached out to him in hopes of claiming the $100,000 reward for finding some information about his father’s disappearance.
Turtles All the Way Down definitely maintains the “John Green” style. One thing I learned during my John Green binge of 2013 is that he certainly has a format by which he writes; there is some teenage romance going on, and more than one of his novels has featured some sort of mystery that the main character needs to solve (I got some strong Paper Towns vibes while reading this). That being said, I enjoy John Green’s style and Turtles All the Way Down is no exception. In fact, in my personal ranking of John Green novels, this one would fall near the top of the list.
Some of the things about this book that I loved: Aza’s name (which her parents picked because they wanted her to have a unique name); the inclusion of the tuatara, which is a pet lizard that the missing billionaire left his entire estate too (and even hired his own personal zoologist to care for- it is now my life goal to have a personal zoologist); and all of the slightly pretentious aspects of this novel (which also appear in many of John Green’s other novels- I know some people dislike this, but it makes me feel a little bit profound while reading his books).
What I didn’t like quite as much: Aza drove me a little bit crazy throughout the story. Often, she would act in a way that is not how I would respond to that situation and I would think “come on girl, get it together, act normal!” This is not a criticism of the writing or story of Turtles All the Way Down- I actually think that this was intentional as it involves Aza’s experience with her mental illness. This is also not the first time I have had these feelings about characters in books/movies/television shows (I gave up on Arrested Development after two season because I Just. Couldn’t. Handle. Stupid. People.) but it really does impact my enjoyment of whatever type of media I am consuming.
Overall, I give this book 4/5 stars. I think that if you have enjoyed other books by John Green, then you will also enjoy this one (and if you haven’t read anything by John Green, what are you doing-get reading). John Green is one of my favorite YA authors, and I was impressed by his latest novel.
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LibraryThing member brianinbuffalo
Green masterfully captures the agony that the central character faces as she grapples with OCD. It’s an inner-torment that the author is intimately familiar with. Green has publicly disclosed his near-lifelong struggles with OCD. Candidly, I don’t think the Sherlock (or in this case, Shirley)
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Holmes subplot should have been part of this otherwise fascinating narrative. The search for a fugitive billionaire only detracts from this intriguing character study. Still, “Turtles All the Way Down” is a compelling read. In my estimation, it’s not as good as “Looking for Alaska,” but it offers a riveting portrait of a girl who is battling inner-chaos.
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