‘Turtles All the Way Down’ bolsters mental illness into literature


“Turtles All the Way Down” written by John Green, has received many positive reviews including an overall 4.3/5 on Goodreads. Green is on tour with the book currently. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Mo Wood, Editor in Chief

Mental illness is a serious subject that is often left unapproached and stigmatized. It is the focal point of John Green’s new book “Turtles All the Way Down.” Green describes the struggles of anxiety in a way that illuminates the seriousness of the illness, and with such reality, I felt mind racing fear along with Aza Holmes, the main character.

Green has prooved himself a talented writer, but I was scared his latest book would be different from his other works, perhaps inflated by his popularity after “Paper Towns” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” but thankfully this book comes close to my favorite of his pieces, “Looking for Alaska.”

Turtles follows Aza, a junior at White River high school. She lives a rather average life with her mother after her father died when she was young. Aza spends most of her time reading about different diseases, living in a world of fear, whereas her best friend Daisy, looks to the future. Daisy hears about a billionaire who disappeared before he could go to trial with a $100,000 reward and decides she and Aza should solve the mystery. Aza’s connection to the billionaire’s son, Davis, is rekindled as the girls search to earn the reward.

Aza’s story is full of emotional complexity, raising all the questions interesting questions about self-identity and self-worth. Aza’s journeys to find herself may not be glamorous like most young adult heroines, but it still enraptures readers in a way that Katniss or Beatrice never did. Aza’s journey reaches a much wider audience, as one in five U.S. teens have a mental disorder, according to LiveScience.

Mental illness is taboo in our society, and Green’s courage to write a story about it and to talk about his own history with mental illness deserves commendation. “Turtles all the Way Down” is a shining example and I hope more authors find inspiration to tell stories that follow in its footsteps.