Sunday, March 16, 2014

Looking for Alaska

Author:  John Green
Published:  2005
Michael L. Printz Award
UPDATED 3/16/2014
This book was awarded the Michael L. Printz award.  This award "annually honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit." 

I read this book at the beginning of the semester, but I'm reviewing it again because we are discussing it in class this week.

Miles, the main character, is about to enter the 11th grade, but decides to leave his school to attend the same boarding school that his father attended.  Miles is a tall and slender boy who loves to memorize the last words people say on their deathbed.

In boarding school, his roommate is "The Colonel" who gives Miles the nickname of Pudge.  Pudge also becomes friends with Alaska, an unstable, but beautiful girl, and Takumi.  They are good students, but are trying to out-prank the previous year's class, and break some rules at school without getting caught.

Alaska lost her mother as a child.  Her mother suffered an aneurysm, but Alaska did not call 911 because she didn't understand what was going on.  Each year, Alaska visits her mom's grave on the anniversary of her death.  This year, she forgets, but is reminded after a night of drinking with The Colonel and Pudge.  She drives off quickly in her inebriated state and is in a fatal accident.

The Colonel, Pudge, and Takumi are left with the guilt of having let Alaska drive in her condition.  Eventually, Pudge forgives Alaska and believes that Alaska forgives him for letting her go.
Check this book out from your library.
Faq about Looking for Alaska

***************************************************************************** (January 2014)
I just finished Looking for Alaska.  This is another book on the class reading list.  I chose to read this one because a student and the professor specifically referred to this book on the first day of class.

This was an easy book to read and reminded me of my time in high school and my close relationships.  I was worried at the beginning of the book as to what the countdown on each chapter was about.  At first I thought it was a countdown to Pudge's first relationship with a girl, then I thought it was a countdown to a prank.  Luckily, it was neither.  Either one of those would have been disappointing.  The truth is sad.

This story made me think a lot about my own life.  I didn't like the idea of death being the actual death and also the loss of memories.  Pudge was haunted by his memories and they were slipping away, just as Alaska's memory of her mom slipped her mind.  The slipping away is unavoidable because of entropy.  "Entropy increases.  Things fall apart."

I want my son who is in high school to read this book.  I think I could have used this book in my youth. My favorite quote from this book was, "If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions.  But we can't know better until knowing better is useless."

I'm reminded of my grandfather who died last year, my friend who died right before Christmas, mistakes I've made, burdens I carry.

I need to think more on this.

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