Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

99561Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same. (From: Goodreads)

If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.

Throughout the book, extremely loud and incredibly close soundtrack came to my mind the whole time. The melody fits the story so well.

I never thought Miles “Pudge” Halter’s turning point in life would be like that. Absolutely, totally, completely life-changing difference before and after. It’s like, well, experiencing a heartbroken and mysterious loss at school. Ironically, he went to Alabama in search of his so-called “Great Perhaps” and that was the way he found out the way out of labyrinth of suffering. It’s a come-of-age book about life and death, mortality and immortality, faith and despair. Highly recommend to everyone since it’s inevitable for us to face the miseries and important for us to learn how to deal with them.

We’d failed, maybe, but some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved.

I’d like to share my thoughts for some of the intentionally vague and broad discussion questions below.

Do you like Alaska? Do you think it’s important to like people you read about?
My answer is yes and no. Yes, I like Alaska Young in the book because she was portrayed as a witty, humorous, sexy, but self-destructive and always felt screwed up everything in her life. She was an interesting character for me, and I like that she changed Pudge entirely after they met. On the contrary, no, I don’t like her. She was capricious sometimes, and I didn’t get her actually. One minute she was still having fun when drinking heavily plus smoking to die, and within a blink of eye, she was freaked out and started blaming herself without clear reasons(or maybe she did have a reason and just nobody knew why. I can tell you yes, she had her own reason to do so.)

She didn’t leave me enough to discover her, but she left me enough to rediscover the Great Perhaps.

Is forgiveness universal?
Speaking of forgiveness, I’m not sure whether this is a coincidence or not. Yesterday morning, I got a phone call from my friend and shocked enough to be informed of my best friend’s death because of the failure after 20 days of his emergency treatment. I met him three years ago in a summer camp and later became good friends. 20 days before, he invited me to go to a color party but I had a plan that day so he said he’d go with other classmates and I promised him to have a brunch the next day. Never did I expect that he was one of the victims in the dust explosion in that party. What’s worse, he got 65% large-area, third to fourth degree burns all over his skin and was sent to the hospital immediately. Even though in the instant moment I knew how badly he was injured, I had a bad feeling that there was a slim chance for his survival, I still held some hope for him because he was a strong guy I used to know. 20 days after, his family told me he was in a coma during the last period of his life and never woke up ever since. As for me, I was too scared to visit him so I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. I don’t even know his last words.

Everything that comes together falls apart.

Sometimes it’s really hard to swallow the fact that my best friend is dead, like “Poof” and gone. I have no way to fulfill my promise to him anymore but when I know that once the doctor took off his ECMO(extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), he had let out his last breath and he’d no longer feel the excruciating pain, I was kind of relieved. I think he’ll forgive me in the heaven as long as he knows what I’m thinking and how his friends are feeling for him. So yes, forgiveness is universal, no matter the circumstances and it’s possible for the dead to forgive the living, and vise versa. Tears in heaven by Eric Clapton is the song in memorial to him, and he’ll be in our hearts forever.

In my opinion, when we lose someone we love, or someone we happened to encounter with in the seemingly short life, all we can do instead of lamenting our losses is change the state of mind. Change the way we think about the death/depress we all have to face someday. That’s the best solution for us, I suppose. Just as the old saying goes, “Time will heal all wounds.” So, why not find your own way out of the labyrinth?


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