"Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there's a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett's son, David.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza's story of shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship."
As soon as this book was announced, I pre-ordered it and waited impatiently until its October release.
This book has a very different feel from John Green's previous books. While there was a boy involved, it wasn't a romance like almost all of his previous books have elements of. It's not about Aza trying to get together with Davis. She's got other things to worry about, even if Davis is involved. I really appreciated that there was a focus on Aza and her friendship with Daisy. There are too many reads out there where as soon as a boy gets involved, other friends just seem to fall off the face of the earth, including some of John Green's reads. He's one of my favorite people in the world, but he's definitely not immune to this trope.
I also appreciated that a good chunk of this book was devoted to Aza's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but not in a way that was preachy. It was done in a way where you could get inside her head to know what was happening to her and then by extension, know and understand how that affected her outside of her brain. It scared me how things got even worse for her. You definitely care about Aza the more you get to know her so when she starts going into a dip, when she gives into her compulsions more and more, despite fighting back as hard as she possibly can, your heart rises into your mouth and your stomach drops with worry for her. At least that's what happened for me.
One complaint I have about this book is why Green decided to start the book off as a mystery that Aza was attempting to solve. I don't personally feel that this was such a big part of the book. It certainly starts off that way where Aza and Daisy are trying to get to the bottom of this mystery, but that quickly dies off... so I'm confused why this book was marketed as a mystery, in part. I think it would have been just fine if it was marketed as a fiction book on the subject of OCD. I still would have read it. After this first read however, it felt like a distraction to me and that put a damper on my first read-through.
I will likely be reading this book again. Maybe then I'll get to the bottom of my own personal mystery as to why John Green might have chosen to include this and why his publisher decided to market this book partially as a mystery novel.
If you are interested in mental health and want to understand how to navigate illness and personhood in a sensitive way, this is a good book to start with.
I give 'Turtles All The Way Down':