Turtles All the Way Down 
by John Green

 

Since her father died, high school junior Aza Holmes has been overcome with anxiety and has an obsessive fear of being infected with a bacteria, which can be fatal. She is plagued by “intrusives” – thoughts that take over her consciousness. Although her best friends Mychal, a gifted artist and Daisy, a Star Wars fan fiction author, know about her condition, they accept her quirky behavior. Aza reconnects with Davis, her former friend from “sad camp,” when his billionaire father, who is running from criminal charges, disappears. Daisy talks Aza into sneaking onto the family property and trying to get to the bottom of the mystery in order to receive the $100,000 reward. Although there is a bit of mystery and romance, the author’s focus is on Aza’s mental illness and the anxiety it produces. Green, who suffers himself from OCD, seamlessly switches from first- to second-person during her panic attacks, allowing the reader to relate to her suffering and understand the existential knowledge she gains from them.  Aza is a sympathetic protagonist and readers will root for her to gain control of her life.

 

Dutton Books, October 10, 2017, 288 pages, HS.

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Booktalk by Sharon Nehls.

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