On the surface Turtles All the Way Down sounds like a typical John Green story; missing eccentric billionaire and a teen trying to find him with the help of her best friend. I’m not the biggest fan of his but I had heard that the character Aza was based on his own experiences of OCD, so I gave it a chance. And Aza is what wins this book.
Nobody gets anybody else, not really. We’re all stuck inside ourselves.
Now I know a lot of people don’t like this book because it bills itself as a mystery or they are expecting a romance they can root for, and these things are really quite secondary. It takes place in Aza’s mind and her mind is a busy, messy place. Her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder revolves around her fear of catching and dying from clostridium difficile (C-Diff). She has worried a wound on her finger for years, now leaving an open sore which she has to regularly check, and re-open, which just makes her fears worse. She spirals in her thoughts, there are “turtles all the way down”.
The book shows her going to therapy and discussing drug treatments, how she avoids them but her therapist pushes her to keep trying to find something that works for her.
I loved her friendship with Daisy. Aza isn’t into Star Wars but Daisy is a massive fan girl and writes Chewbacca romance fan fiction. She can deal with her best friend having different likes. There is a part where it shows how mental illness can put stresses on relationships but good ones will hold out. I liked that their misunderstandings weren’t drawn out, they are good friends.
It feels like Davis has been put there for a romance at the start but I think he’s there to show how OCD can get in the way of forming romantic relationships. He’s the billionaire’s son, but really quite sweet. He and his younger brother don’t stand to get anything from their father’s disappearance, the whole estate is being left to a tuatara, a reptile known for longevity.
Your now is not your forever.
I liked the ending, it was saying you will be OK, maybe not know, but things will be better, you just have to brave the storm.
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 16. A book about mental health
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Book Source: Purchased