Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Category: Young adult fiction
Synopsis [c/o Barnes & Noble]: "Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same."
Looking for Alaska tells the tale of a inconspicuous teenage boy who runs into a group of students at a boarding school that not only bring him out of his shell, but impact his life forever. While friendships form around pranks, plans, and the ever tumultuous Alaska, the author slowly reveals that not all is as it may seem; even the most vivacious and outgoing of teenagers hide personal issues and problems that eat away at them from the inside out. One singular event occurs, forcing the characters to look deep within themselves to answer some of life's most challenging questions.
Although this novel is identified in the young adult section, and is definitely written on a young adult level, I wouldn't recommend it for younger teenagers. [I understand that drugs, sex, and alcohol are regular components of average high school life, but hopefully we can shelter the ones we love for just a little longer?] Normal teenage angst is slightly involved, causing me to gnash teeth while I'm reading about love sick 16 year olds, but there is definitely a deeper message from the author that is difficult to find in most young adult novels. Green has the reader contemplating death, guilt, life, happiness, and the facade that covers it all. Older teenagers who are struggling with some internal battle may be able to read this and come to terms with whatever they are dealing with. Fantastically written, flows extremely well, amazing character development; definite recommendation for those who are looking to get a little more out of a read.