Turtles All the Way Down: John Green


John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down is a touching coming-of-age story about a young woman learning to live, love, and become an adult with a crippling mental illness.

Turtles All the Way Down, John Green

Green is known for being a master storyteller of often sad, always meaningful, tales of the lives of young people. Turtles All the Way Down is no exception to this rule. Through this story, Green tackles challenges such as death, mental illness, and heartbreak – to name a few.

Aza is a pretty normal teenage girl. She has an awesome best friend and a great mom, and she might have a crush on the boy down the river. But within her own mind, she feels anything but normal. Aza is crippled by her mental illness, falling into spirals of anxiety that leave her disconnected from the world around her.

Green tells a beautifully descriptive story of Aza’s efforts to cope with her mental illness and the highs and lows of being a teenage girl. Turtles All the Way Down is a touching, fascinating, and quick read that will leave you with a better understanding of mental illness and with tears in your eyes.

Content Warnings

Please take caution when reading Turtles All the Way Down if any of the following topics may trigger you:

  • Death
  • Self harm
  • Mental illness

My Thoughts

Turtles All the Way Down is a touching quick read clearly written for young adults. Green’s description of thought spirals is fascinating and can provide you with the tools to be more empathetic toward others with mental illnesses. I’ve given it a 3 because it’s not a challenging read, but it is worth reading – especially given how short it is (I finished it in 24 hours).

This is a great read for young women. It tackles issues besides mental illness, like friendship and selfishness, loss of a loved one, relationships with parents, young love, and self harm – all written with extreme care.

This is both a coming-of-age and a whodunit, as the wealthy father of Aza’s crush, Davis, goes on the run to escape charges of fraud. The combination of these two genres is curious and doesn’t always hit the mark. While the whodunit aspect is interesting, I don’t think the two stories are fused together seamlessly. When I think about this book, I think about Aza’s mental health journey. The manhunt is an afterthought that feels very separate.

All in all, I think that Turtles All the Way Down is worth the short amount of time it will take to read. The plot and writing err on the side of childish, but the message is timeless and touching.

I so appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts on Turtles All the Way Down. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya.

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