The latest offering from John Green feels like a long time coming. His last title, the blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars, was released in 2012. However, Turtles All the Way Down is well worth the wait.
Aza is a sixteen-year-old living in suburban Indianapolis, Green’s own hometown. Setting the novel in a location he knows so well lends an intimacy to the novel, as does Green’s honesty and candour in describing Aza’s mental health issues, which he himself shares and has spoken about. Aza’s anxiety and OCD limit her ability to enjoy life to its fullest, a theme Green has also touched upon in his previous novels. However, this inability to enjoy the richness of life also afflicts those around Aza, including her best friend Daisy, whose teenage years are spent working to support her family financially; an old friend, Davis, whose family’s extreme wealth only serves to isolate him from ordinary life; and Aza’s mother, who continually grieves the death of her husband.
In tackling the coming of age novel Green never patronises the reader and never chooses to shield them from life’s realities. Green’s trademark humour and gift for characterisation leaven the more serious elements of the book and reminds the reader of his great gift in creating believable teenage characters.
This reader welcomes John Green’s return to publishing with what could be considered his best novel to date. Turtles All the Way Down is sure to satisfy his many voracious readers while leaving them with plenty of food for thought.