Turtles All the Way Down

“Turtles All the Way Down,” is John Green’s latest release and, just like its predecessors, it is sure to rise all the way to the top of the bestseller list.

The story stars Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old high school student suffering with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. She is backed by her “Best and Most Fearless Friend,” Daisy Ramirez. When a conspiracy over the disappearance of a billionaire emerges, the two are on the case. As Aza begins to get closer and closer to the heart of the mystery, then almost loses everything, she learns that sometimes all you can do is focus on one thing at a time. 

Nobody gets anybody else, not really. We’re all stuck inside ourselves.”

The title fits this theme, and is derived from an old story about a science professor who teaches that the world is spherical while a student disagrees. The student argues, rather, that the world is flat and is sitting on top of a giant turtle. This turtle sits on top of another turtle, and so on and so forth. If all Aza looks for is the bottom turtle, she will never be successful because there is no bottom. She needs to try to focus on one turtle, or thing, at a time.


Aza suffers from “thought spirals” due to her anxiety, and John Green portrays these in the text with italic and normal text to keep things from being confusing. Aza calls them “invasives,” which makes sense when you see how distracting, unwanted, and damaging they can be.


This story hits close to home for John Green. He has suffered from serious anxiety for a long time, and while he still cannot talk about it directly, in an interview with “Time” magazine, stated that, “…it was really empowering, because I felt like if I could give it form or expression I could look at it and I could talk about it directly rather than being scared of it.”


His message may hit close to home for some students here at West Ranch, too. It felt almost comforting to see how the anxiety and OCD in this story wasn’t covered up at all. 

If one word could be used to describe this book, it would be “honest.” While I don’t suffer from a mental illness myself, it was obvious that Green did not attempt to gloss over or dramatize the issue like most books do. It doesn’t picture a perfect friendship, love life, or have any plot holes, like a poor family living in a large house. It addresses what it is like to be a teenager in a town that you love but can see flaws in.

This story skipped over all of the cheesy love scenes that us young adults are so used to seeing. Instead of featuring a couple, it highlights the strong bond of friendship and addresses real conflicts that friends can fall into.

If you haven’t already stopped reading this review to go find a copy of the book, I suggest you do it now.

This novel definitely gets a 5/5 paws from me.