Archive for April 2012
Miles Halter is in search of “a Great Perhaps” – his phrase, taken from the last words of the poet Francois Rabelais, for the that indefinable, pregnant possibility that adolescence so often thrives on. He isn’t going to find it in an ordinary public school in Florida, so he convinces his parents to let him go to Culver Creek Boarding school in Alabama. There he meets Chip, Lara, and Takumi…but most of all Alaska Young. In which he finds his “Great Perhaps” but not in quite the way that he expected to.
Looking for Alaska is very much a deconstruction of romantic myths, but it is one that is not disdainful of hope and love. Miles, having fallen for Alaska, keeps looking for hints that he has become as central to Alaska’s world as she has become to his. In doing so, he overlooks much of what makes the real Alaska tick, a contradiction that Alaska herself is quick to point out. When tragedy strikes, Miles’ grief pushes him to refocus his efforts rather than step back and examine them critically, a mistake that threatens to tear apart the friendships he has come to value.
Green’s (and Miles’) clever, snarky, and yet somehow mellow voice is an essential part of this book’s charm. It is also how Green is able to make readers sympathetic to Miles’ antics while still shaking our heads at his obsession; a more reverent or less erudite approach would have made the tale overly sappy or shallow by turns, rather than acting as a counterpoint to Miles puppy dog love. Instead, Green is able to invite us to dwell on Alaska’s many charms along with Miles, while still allowing a multi-faceted character to filter in around Miles’ rose colored viewpoint. All of which becomes incredibly essential when Miles is finally forced to find a truthful and moral balance between his feelings and the needs of those he cares about.
Green, John. (2005). Looking for Alaska. New York, NY: speak.
Best for Ages: 15-19
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