Monday, September 03, 2007
Several weeks ago, right around the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, the Book Dragon (now Outside of a Dog) posted a link to Brotherhood 2.0. Brotherhood 2.0 is a video blog project between two brothers- Hank and John Green. Over the next few weeks I (some would say obsessively) watched ALL the videos- one a weekday from January 1, 2007 until now. I love it. I love the brothers. One of the brothers is John Green, a published award-winning young adult author. Once I finished catching up with the vlog, I found myself having withdrawals, so I headed to the library where I checked out Looking for Alaska by John Green.
One night as I was trying to convince myself to read something on a challenge list (yeah right), I picked up the book and read the "About the Author." Now, having seen all the videos, I have a pretty good idea of John's (first name basis, see?) history and life, but one sentence in the bio really jumped out at me- "John Green attended a boarding school in Alabama not entirely unlike Alaska's Culver Creek." What?? Are you serious? I attended a boarding school in Alabama! I am only a couple years older than John Green! This spurred a fast and furious internet search until wikipedia told me that, alas, we did not attend the same school. (For the record, I attended the Alabama School of Math and Science and he went to Indian Springs School. Mine- public; his- not so much.)
This still spurred me on to reading the book. Looking for Alaska is about Miles who is a first time student, a junior, at an Alabama boarding school. It's about making friends, loyalty, growing up, love, doubts, everything we all did in high school. There is an abundance of smoking, drinking, and a good bit of sex talk. This was so much like my high school it's was spooky. The book isn't broken into chapters, but rather sections are titled as a countdown (ninety-eight days before, four days before, twenty-one days after, etc.) Obviously, Something Happens and the rest of the book deals with the aftermath of that.
I have to say I loved it. The story isn't particularly unique, but it is very clear that John Green remembers high school clearly. I don't know if this will resonate with people who didn't attend a boarding school, and honestly, I have a hard time separating the book from my experience. Between the vlog, and the shared high school experience, I thought this was an excellent book. If you aren't already a John Green fan or a boarding school alum, I don't know, it might not be for you. It's not a book that avoid touchy subjects and there's a lot of hand-wringing in the last half. I thought it did an excellent job of showing how fast and tight friendships are formed in a dorm. Overall, great book, and I'll be looking for his other book An Abundance of Katherines.