The winner of the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award, Looking for Alaska tells the story of Miles, an 11th grade student who transferred to boarding school in Alabama where he learns a lot about drinking, smoking, love and loss. Miles, a sixteen-year-old with an obsession for famous last words, can’t help but fall for Alaska, the tragically beautiful girl down the hall. In his desire to explore what Francois Rabelais called “the Great Perhaps,” Miles, Alaska and his roommate Chip break all the rules while pulling pranks, smoking on campus and late-night drinking. With chapter titles made up of day counts from before and after, the book is full of foreshadowing that pulls the reader-in to find out more.
Green, J. (2005). Looking for Alaska. New York, NY: Dutton.
I have heard a lot about this novel over the years that left my curiosity peaked. I found the story to be very eloquent and enjoyed it a lot. This award-winning novel is definitely one of those angst ridden coming of age pieces that you either relate to or not. While I think I would have been more moved by it had I still been in my teen years, I still really liked it. I thought the character Alaska was a little stereotypical in her ability to drink the boys under the table and still be the most wanted girl on campus, but maybe that’s because I have read so much young adult literature. All in all, I give it my recommendation.
“This ambitious first novel introduces 16-year-old Miles Halter, whose hobby is memorizing famous people’s last words. When he chucks his boring existence in Florida to begin this chronicle of his first year at an Alabama boarding school, he recalls the poet Rabelais on his deathbed who said, ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ Miles’s roommate, the ‘Colonel,’ has an interest in drinking and elaborate pranks—pursuits shared by his best friend, Alaska, a bookworm who is also ‘the hottest girl in all of human history.’ Alaska has a boyfriend at Vanderbilt, but Miles falls in love with her anyway. Other than her occasional hollow, feminist diatribes, Alaska is mostly male fantasy—a curvy babe who loves sex and can drink guys under the table. Readers may pick up on clues that she is also doomed. Green replaces conventional chapter headings with a foreboding countdown—‘ninety-eight days before,’ ‘fifty days before’—and Alaska foreshadows her own death twice (‘I may die young,’ she says, ‘but at least I’ll die smart’). After Alaska drives drunk and plows into a police car, Miles and the Colonel puzzle over whether or not she killed herself. Theological questions from their religion class add some introspective gloss. But the novel’s chief appeal lies in Miles’s well-articulated lust and his initial excitement about being on his own for the first time. Readers will only hope that this is not the last word from this promising new author. Ages 14-up.”
(2005, February 7). [Review of the book Looking for Alaska, by J. Green]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-525-47506-4.
With John Green’s increasing popularity and the filming of the movie based on The Fault in Our Stars I think it would be appropriate to use this book as a part of a John Green book display in the young adult area.