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Looking for Alaska

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quester

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I just finished an abundance of katherines and it is an amazing book, just not at all edgy" like waiting for alaska. John Green is my hero. Every once in a while you see someone who does everything you wish you could do as a writer, and for me that is John Green. Jealousy.

Theodore
#61 - October 31, 2006, 08:43 AM

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I think he was in Austin last weekend, and now he's coming to the Bay Area.  Yay for us.  The reading I'm going to is at 10am on Friday morning which seems a bit wierd to me, unless they are going to let entire classes attend.  Otherwise, the place is going to be full of 40ish gals like me - not at all what they had in mind.

Looking for Alaska caused me such a crisis of confidence that I had to stop reading it while I was writing.  His website/blog www.sparksflyup.com is fun too.
#62 - October 31, 2006, 10:17 AM
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maddog

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Try not to think of it as jealousy, Theodore, think of it as a benchmark for yourself.   :yup
#63 - October 31, 2006, 10:24 AM

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I got to meet John yesterday at a signing and he was adorable.  Just as funny, smart and self-deprecating as you'd imagine him to be.  Plus, he writes nice stuff in your books when he signs them.  If you get a chance to see him, I highly suggest doing so.   

He talked about this a bit, so it's not a secret, but the movie rights have been purchased for Alaska and he actually likes the screenplay.  We might not have to look too far for Alaska in the near future.  (Sorry)   
#64 - November 04, 2006, 05:38 PM
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mandy

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I LOVED Looking for Alaska.  I even volunteered to do the author report portion in my young adult lit class.

Pudge is a great protagonist that I think a lot of young people can relate to, but my favorite character was definitely Alaska.  And the writing style was absolutely wonderful and not exactly typical of YA--which is why I think it works as a crossover.  It was philosophical, intelligent, and utterly different.

I didn't think it was devoid of morals or anything.  Yeah, they did some things that people may view as "wrong," but the story has enough heart that it doesn't matter.  It's not like Gossip Girl, where everyone lies, cheats, has tons of sex, and drinks/does drugs without any consequences.  Real things happen, which is, I think, why I like it.

Unfortunately, I've LOST my copy of the book.  :(  I miss it.
#65 - November 13, 2006, 10:02 PM

richmond8

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Sorry, but i was really underwhelmed by this book. 

Has anybody read "The Schwa Was Here"?  by Neal Schusterman.  I thought that was fantastic, with great voice, and did not rely so heavily on sex and alcohol for the action.  You could recommend "Schwa" to teens and feel good about doing so.  A boy's book that girls could like too.
#66 - December 12, 2006, 08:13 PM

dwrites

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I know this one is controversial. But I just loved it. I'm not even going to try to analyze intentions or pick apart the characters and motivations. I just loved it. Edgy, yeah. Somebody's got to do it. John does it well.

*Off to pick up The Schwa Was Here* (Which also sounds like a winner)

Diana

   
#67 - December 12, 2006, 08:44 PM

Barbara Eveleth

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I ordered this for my 15 y o. She has read Prep and loved it. And she and I are both drawn to controversy. This is a girl who comes to me and asks what I would think of her if she smoked dope, and I would say something like just don't do anything stupid.
#68 - December 14, 2006, 10:05 AM

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Wow, I just finished last night and ... wow. All I could think all the way through was, "I wish I'd written this!"

I didn't find the beginning slow at all. I was swept away on the first page because of the amazing voice and the brilliant humour. I kept telling my 13 year old son, "You're gonna love this one," and now that I've read the whole thing, I've paused a bit to rethink it (mostly because of the BJ scene). But yeah, I still want him to read it. How could I keep him from such a beautifully written book - no way. He's free to read it and we'll have a nice long discussion afterwards that I'm really looking forward to.

#69 - March 30, 2007, 07:16 AM

richmond8

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A 13-yr-old is in what, 8th grade?  Are you sure?  There are so many other great books for a kid that age, and he'll still have many more years to enjoy Alaska in later.  Boys feel a lot of pressure to get involved in sex and alcohol from the media.  that book isn't going to help.  I know I should butt out and I'm taking a risk of people coming down on my head.  But has he read Sleeping Freshman Never Lie?  what about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas--you could have a great discussion after that book.
#70 - March 30, 2007, 05:00 PM

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you know, it's funny. I don't see this book as any kind of pressure for kids to drink and stuff. If nothing else, it puts it in a negative light. At least, I know my son well enough to know that's how he would see it. All kids have different levels of maturity and different value systems. I can trust that my son wouldn't go out and try smoking or drinking just because he read it in a book. He's got a great outlook on things. He'll read it and say, "I can't believe they were so stupid..." Would I trust my younger son to read it when he hits 13? Hell no. But he's a different kid with totally different ways of thinking.
#71 - March 30, 2007, 09:58 PM

I teach 8th grade. They are all aware of these things. I'd say that half of them have experienced one or both of them. Probably more. I think it's great that you plan to talk to your son about it. Most kids don't have anyone talking to them about the things they see on tv, much less books. I don't think this book would have any sort of adverse affect on a thoughtful kid. Just my opinion. Obviously his mom knows him best and is the best judge.
#72 - March 31, 2007, 04:53 AM
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richmond8

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Thank you for not getting furious with me, SBK.
#73 - March 31, 2007, 07:35 AM

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Hey, Richmond, everyone has opinions, right?
#74 - March 31, 2007, 11:52 AM

Barbara Eveleth

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My daughter (almost 16) LOVES this book. She loved Prep, too.
#75 - March 31, 2007, 04:33 PM

quester

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I think an ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES might be a more friendly book for younger YA readers.

It's funny -- I went to the Bank Street Book Shop with a bunch of people from Verla's about 6 weeks ago, and the lady there looked at me blankly when I asked about John Green. I said, you know, "Looking for Alaska?"

But then I noticed they had a display with an ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES.... I think Looking For Alaska didn't make the cleaness/children's cut.


theodore
#76 - April 08, 2007, 01:26 PM

Barbara Eveleth

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Well, I haven't gotten to that part yet but I do love his writing. Reminds me a bit of A Separate Peace. Also, very easy to read.
#77 - May 14, 2007, 12:13 PM

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*NOT REALLY A SPOILER AHEAD, BUT YOU STILL MAY NOT WANT TO READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK*

I just realized that I never followed up on this. My son (13) loved this book. And it wasn't about the drinking or the bj scene. What hit him was the rawness of the emotions, the shock of what can happen in the blink of an eye to change your life. He walked around the house for days just in shock of the sadness of it all (but in a good, appreciative kind of way). He talked to all his friends about it and told them all they had to read this book. I think he felt he'd actually lost one of his own friends because the characters were so real to him.

He has now also read An Abundance of Katherines and is obsessed with anagramming. John Green is now his all-time favourite author. Every book he's read since then has just gotten a shrug - "yeah, I guess it's okay but it's no Alaska or Katherines."


#78 - May 14, 2007, 12:42 PM

I've heard it compared to Separate Peace, AE and I agree. I had a similar feeling after I read this book as I did Separate Peace, although I doubt I could articulate what it was. And sorry if I um, gave anything away.
#79 - May 14, 2007, 02:01 PM
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RES

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When this thread popped up it reminded me that I had intended to post this earlier.

I'm an adjunct at a university and this past semester I had every student recommend a book they thought people in the class might not have read, but would enjoy. The book picks were fascinating and told me a lot about the students.

I recommended "Looking For Alaksa" as I figured many college students might not shop for books in the YA section anymore. They had never heard of it. Several students bought the book and they absolutely loved it. When I asked what they loved about it they said they felt it was "real" and that they could really relate to the characters. One student was annoyed that the book was considered YA and wondered what other books he might be missing shelved in the YA section.

So I think this book has a wide range of potential readers, don't you think? I'm not a good judge as I don't yet have children so when I'm reading something, I rarely evaluate the content for the target market. I long to get sucked into the story and "Looking for Alaska" sucked me in. I had a similar experience with "How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff. It didn't bother me a bit that Daisy was hooking up with her cousin, I adored the writing and the story.

I love reading the posts on this board and really enjoy all of your views and opinions! Very interesting.



#80 - May 14, 2007, 06:13 PM

just finished this book and i wish i had read it sooner.  it was awesome!  and it was totally not my usual style (i'm a chick lit chick :) )  i can't believe this was the author's first novel -- he truly is a master of the craft.   
#81 - July 01, 2007, 06:07 PM

MVP

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I'm about two-thirds of the way through Looking for Alaska right now.  I was impressed from the start.  I have to say those were the most entertaining set of acknowledgments I've ever read.  I also think the story itself has got a lot of heart.  I was especially struck by the scenes of Miles with his parents and the Colonel with his mom.  I'd often heard that Looking for Alaska was "edgy" so I was kind of surpised to see these tender and believable scenes of teenagers with functional families. (OK, the Colonel's dad is dysfunctional, but the book really pays more attention to his relationship with his mother.)

So I'm liking the book a lot.  But I wouldn't have liked it when I was 15.  I was more judgemental at that age, and the fact that the kids were drinking, smoking, and having sex would have completely overshadowed their likeable qualities for me.  I wouldn't have been able to relate to them at all.

I won't be adding this book to my classroom library, either.  I'm sure some middle school kids are ready for it, but not the ones I teach.  They're a surprisingly innocent bunch, even for a private school.  They were kind of surprised when they read in Bridge to Terebithia that a seventh-grader was smoking in the school bathroom!  Sheltered and naive kids still do exist--so I hope writers and editors realize that they need books too.
#82 - July 05, 2007, 09:31 AM

gretchenlaskas

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There are a lot of wonderful YA novels that I'd be reluctant to have in a middle school classroom, though I might give them out to a specific individual who is that age depending on who they were and how well I knew them.  Part of the problem is the term "YA" means anything from 12 and up, and of course you always have some really mature readers (meaning they read better than other students their age, not necessarily that they are ready for mature material) who are reading these books as young as ten. 
#83 - July 05, 2007, 04:24 PM

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TOTAL THREAD DERAILMENT BUT IT'S A JUDY BLUME STORY SO I THINK JOHN GREEN WOULD APPROVE:

Leeth, your daughter hiding the book reminded me of when I was in a used book store with my dad and I was looking for the Judy Blume books TIGER EYES and FOREVER.  Instead, I found Wifey. Wow, I thought. A whole different Judy Blume book. I was so excited when I gave it to my dad to add to his pile of sci-fi and didn't even think to peel inside. I think was 15ish, but I could have been a year or two older. I don't remember. But I do remember reading it in my backyard. I admit, I didn't understand it all, but I loved reading it. The previous owner had even highlighted certain passages to make sure future readers didn't miss the good stuff.

My reading joy was quickly replaced with panic when I realized that I couldn't let anyone know what I'd been reading. I was terrified --not of getting into trouble, but of  the "let's have an honest conversation with our teenager" reaction that my MFCC mother was sure to have.

I literally snuck the book into the trash can the night before trash pick-up to make sure it was not found. I was still worried that some dog or raccoon would knock over the cans and leave the book blowing around on our street.
#84 - July 06, 2007, 01:27 PM

kellyr

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On the plane on the way home from the LA SCBWI conference, I read Looking for Alaska. I laughed a little, cried a lot.  I found the central event in the story to be the thing that was the "edgiest" about it -- the drinking and smoking certainly weren't glamorized, and the blow job scene was great for comic relief, and necessary for some parts of the story development, but it was described fairly tamely, really. 

John Green's willingness to really go there, to the depths of the emotions that are associated with the event in the middle of the book and its ramifications, impressed me no end.  His characters were realistically rendered, the events are all things that occur in the lives of teens, and his willingness to contemplate big questions of faith and death and afterlife and forgiveness make this a book that follows you around even after you've put it down.

Kids may pick it up and pass it around for the blow job scene, but if they read it, they'll come away with little gratification on that count, but lots of good messages about life.
#85 - August 08, 2007, 05:59 PM

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Adding my two cents, finally got around to this one and glad I did. While I personally didn't like Alaska as a character very much for various reasons, and I agree with the earlier poster who questioned whether anyone in the book would have liked her either, or at least put up with so much crap from her, if she wasn't a babe, I do think this is a brilliant novel and John G. is an amazing writer. This is another book that made me think, "wow, THIS is a debut novel?" Wish I could write like that. Kudos, John, if you're still following this thread.
#86 - August 15, 2007, 10:39 AM
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I just finished reading this book. I really can't remember when I've enjoyed a Y.A. book this much. I LOVED it. And if I die being able to write half as well as John Green, I'll be happy. What a brilliant storyteller.
#87 - February 02, 2010, 06:48 PM
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Carol Anne, I could've written your post.  This is one of the best Y.A. books I've ever read, and I was simply blown away by the quality of the writing.  LOVED. IT.
#88 - February 14, 2012, 10:26 PM
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