Currently Reading: Looking for Alaska
It seemed too secret and personal to admit to a virtual stranger, but I told her, "Yeah, totally."
For a moment, she was quiet. Then she grabbed my hand, whispered, "Run run run run run," and took off, pulling me behind her.
Author: John Green
Mini-synopsis: Miles Halter, having gone to boarding school looking for a Great Perhaps, wants but can never quite attain the wild and wildly attractive Alaska Young. In searching for the part of her that is more than "her genetic code and her life experiences and her relationships and the size and shape of her body" [quote edited for spoilers], he learns of failure and forgiveness and what it really means to know and to love.
Notes: All right, I'm going to get this out of the way.
I don't like disclaimers, but sometimes, what else can you do? This book is not for children; besides containing a fair amount of profanity, it is told from the perspective of a high school boy confronted with "the hottest girl in all of human history," and neither of them have the least notion of chastity. I skipped several pages, myself, because 1. I have a really clean mind, and 2. I like it that way, and 3. in a couple of places these teenagers were doing things I've never even done, even though I'm happily married, which amounts to 4. sometimes I just don't need to know.
That said, I read the rest of the book. I figured that it's a bit nonsensical of me to want to be a YA writer without having read John Green, and I'd looked into one of his books in a bookstore recently and been absolutely captivated from page 1 by the voice. Besides, having made it all the way through Catcher in the Rye--of which I only liked one paragraph--I thought I could handle Miles Halter's mind.
And I loved the book. I loved the characters--Miles, the Colonel, the Eagle, Takumi, and especially Alaska. I loved the World Religions teacher and his class and the final things Miles writes about and the bittersweet ending that I almost couldn't read because of the tears in my eyes. There is one line in the last few pages that I've never yet managed to read without my throat catching and my eyes welling up.
It is not a Christian book with a Christian solution to the "labyrinth of suffering," but the solutions were of the sort that I as a Christian could identify with, at least in part. As someone for whom agnostic sensibilities are likely to provide a lifetime of struggle, the thoughts were even helpful. And as someone who admittedly has a hard time letting go of either my own mistakes or others', the book also made me think about failure and forgiveness in meaningful ways. Sometimes, you just have to "love your crooked neighbor with all your crooked heart."
That might be telling you more about me than about the book--but I can't say much more about the book without giving out major spoilers. Or rather, major spoiler. On that topic, I knew going in what the "before" was counting down to, and I'm actually kind of glad I did. But as most people will probably want to remain spoiler-free, I'll go no further here. I won't say 'Read the book'--I know too many people who would be offended--but I will say the book is worth reading.