Friday, August 3, 2012

Looking for Alaska

Green, John. 2005. Looking for Alaska. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-525-47506-0

Miles is obsessed with famous last words and bored with life.  He goes out to find the "Great Perhaps".  Along the way he meets Alaska, who like her name is full of wild unknown.  How much can one person change another persons life?
Looking for Alaska is divided into two parts: before and after.  The chapters are a countdown to and from Alaska's death and the questions it presents.  This book is definetely not for children and should be read by a more mature teen audience.  The novel contains acts of smoking, drinking, profanity and sexual content.  However, the characters are well developed even if Miles is reminiscent of Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye.  Green presents the death/possible suicide of Alaska as an unanswered question that the other characters are left to unravel.  This is much how death occurs in life.  The living are left to sort out the reasons for death.  The fact that the answer is unkown and the characters that remain have to find meaning makes the novel a more satisfying and rewarding read.  The setting is ripe for the type of activities which the characters engage in as it presents minimal adult supervision.  Overall, a well written novel.
Winner, 2006 Michael L. Printz Award
Finalist, 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
2006 Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults
2006 Teens’ Top 10 Award
2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
Borders Original Voices Selection

“Green…has a writer’s voice, so self-assured and honest that one is startled to learn that this novel is his first. The anticipated favorable comparisons to Holden Caufield are richly deserved in this highly recommended addition to young adult literature.”
“Like Phineas in John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace,” Green draws Alaska so lovingly, in self-loathing darkness as well as energetic light, that readers mourn her loss along with her friends.”
-School Library Journal, Starred Review
“The spirit of Holden Caulfield lives on.”
Other works by John Green:
An Abundance of Katherines
Paper Towns
The Fault in Our Stars
Will Grayson, Will Grayson

visit the authors website:
Investigate a famous person's last words
Ask students to write their own obituary and include and explain their last words.

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