Turtles All The Way Down

“I mean, anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.” – John Green, TATWD

I came across John Green – as I’m sure most people did – when The fault in our stars was publish back in 2012. I read that book in a day or so and although I have so many issues with it, specially rereading it a few years later, it was an good read. Since then, I read Looking for Alaska (which’s probably my fave Green so far) and Paper Towns.

I don’t really tend to read YA books anymore, but Turtles all the way down was so highly praised in the last couple of months that I got very interested in giving it a read.

The story is about Aza, a very sensitive and anxious teenage girl who suffers from spiralising thoughts that are totally out of her control and hugely affect her daily life. You see her daily battles against that thoughts and her attempts of just being a normal teenage girl, a good daughter and friend. On the other side of the story, there is Davis, a teenage boy from a very rich household who struggles with the missing of his father and the mystery developing around that.

This book is in fact a classic John Green but it’s also a bit different then the ones I’ve read so far. You get the slightly too wise and sophisticated teens (which makes it sometimes hard to relate), a lot of philosophical quotes, a bit of geekiness, romance and mystery. Although I didn’t enjoy the plot too much (I don’t really think that the mystery part was in anyway necessary) I really appreciate the fact that this book is about unglorified mental health which we don’t really tend to find nowadays. Reading Aza’ spiralising thoughts wasn’t easy. I felt uncomfortable and a bit stressed out while reading this parts  and the way Green writes them down is extraordinary. Another part which I really, really like is that there is a bit of an undertone going on about the fact that sometimes people (specially close friends, family, etc.) can see people with mental illness’ as selfish and self centered. That, in my opinion, is such a true and brutish thing to point on and I’m really glad that this book covered that issue a bit.

I sometimes wished though that Green would actually mention from what Aza is suffering from, which is OCD and Anxiety. It would just add a little bit of an educational point to the book. I feel like specially younger readers would benefit from learning about this illness’ by defining what they actually are. The term “OCD” is sometimes unhesitatingly used in teen/young adult everyday language and publishing a book like that to a mainly young audience would have been a great resource of mental illness education (which I mean, it already is, but it would make the difference in my point of view).

All in all, I enjoyed Turtles all the way down and would recommend that book to anyone who wants to have an inside of a very difficult thought process of a young human and all the people surrounded her who deal differently with that side of her mind.  It is all in all a very quick and easy read and a bit different to what we may used to from YA.

I also have to mention though that if you are struggling with any kind of obsessive disorder or anxiety, this book can be triggering for you as it describes the spirals in a very detailed way. So please keep that in mind before picking this book up!

Have you read Turtles all the way down yet? I would love to hear your opinions!





  1. I totally agree with the points you raised Rosa! My problem with well all of John Green’s books is that you can always tell it is John Green talking and writing which means all his characters know too much about random things and tend to talk in a very elaborate and as you said sophisticated way. And I agree with the OCD part, I also think Aza struggled with more than just anxiety and some parts were definitely hard to read. But apart from that, I thought the story was very well thought and written and it is overall a really nice book.
    – Marta

    1. Thank you for sharing Marta! Yeah definitely, Green really has a thing for that, making his teen protagonists super eloquent and over the top philosophical … that was such an issue for me in The fault in our stars! But I mean, that defines a John Green book and there is kinda a red line going through all of his work!
      What I also really enjoyed about this book is that it really wasn’t about a idolised romantic interest we so often see in his book but about friendships!


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