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That John Green is the King of YA is basically indisputable. When I read Looking for Alaska as a junior in high school, I remember feeling distinctly understood. Nearly every line of the novel was scribbled upon or starred or underlined. This, I remember thinking to myself, is exactly how I've always felt but didn't know how to articulate. I don't remember the specific plot points of that book anymore, but I have never forgotten how it made me feel. I read to feel known, and that's how I felt while reading John Green.
Reading Turtles All The Way Down as someone who is, let's say, quite a few years removed from high school, I still felt that same way. The novel tells the story of Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old from Indianapolis who struggles with severe obsessive compulsive disorder that mostly manifests internally through "thought spirals" which she calls "invasives." "Supposedly everyone has them," she says. "You look out from over a bridge or whatever and it occurs to you out of nowhere that you could just jump. And then if you're most people, you think, Well that was a weird thought, and move on with your life. But some people the invasive can kind of take over, crowding out all the other thoughts until it's the only you're able to have, the thought you're perpetually either thinking or distracting yourself from."
John Green, who has struggled with OCD and anxiety for most of his life, very intentionally wrote this novel with teenagers like Aza in mind. I'm not a teenager or a person who suffers from OCD as Aza does, but I find so much about her — her self-perceived "outsider" status, her struggle to coalesce her physical presence with her internal self, and her trials and tribulations in friendship and first love — completely relatable.
If you've read a John Green novel before (or been on Tumblr in the last decade or so), you already know that his books are just so freakin' quotable. Turtles All The Way Down is no exception, and I already feel that many of the lines in this book have permanently stamped themselves upon my heart. Here are 21 quotes from the new John Green book to remind you why he's one of the most beloved YA authors of all time and make you feel a little more understood:
"I thought about how we all believed ourselves to be the hero of some personal epic, when in fact we were basically identical organisms colonizing a vast and windowless room that smells of Lysol and lard."
"I apologize for the double negative, but it's a real double negative of a situation, a bind from which negating the negation is truly the only escape."
"The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely."
"Davis and I never talked much, or even looked at each other, but it didn't matter, because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe more intimate than eye contact anyway. Anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see."
"We are about to live the American Dream, which is, of course, to benefit from someone else's misfortune."
"The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they'd be totally acceptable."
"I was thinking about how part of your self can be in a place while at the same time the most important parts are in a different place, a place that can't be accessed via your senses."
"And the thing is, when you lose someone, you realize you'll eventually lose everyone."
"Dr. Singh once told me that if you have a perfectly tuned guitar and a perfectly tuned violin in the same room, and you pluck the D string of the guitar, then all the way across the room, the D string on the violin will also vibrate. I could always feel my mother's vibrating strings."
"....even though I laughed with them, it felt like I was watching the whole thing from somewhere else, like I was watching a movie about my life instead of living it."
"I felt certain something was going to kill me, and of course I was right: Something is going to kill you, someday, and you can't know if this is the day."
"Most adults are just hollowed out. You watch them try to fill themselves up with booze or money or God or fame or whatever they worship, and it all rots them from the inside until nothing is left but the money or booze or God they thought would save them."
"You don't get to be *in* anything else — in friendship or in anger or in hope. All you can be is in love. And I wanted to tell him that even though I'd never been in love, I knew what it was like to be *in* a feeling, to be not just surrounded by it but also permeated by it..."
"Every loss is unprecedented. You can't ever know someone else's hurt, not really — just like touching someone else's body isn't the same as having someone else's body."
"I took his hand, and part of me wanted to tell him I loved him, but I wasn't sure if I really did. Our hearts were broken in the same places. That's something like love, but maybe not quite the thing itself."
"Nobody gets anybody else, not really. We're all stuck inside ourselves."
"I was still at the beginning. I could still be anybody."
"People always talk like there's a bright line between imagination and memory, but there isn't, at least not for me. I remember what I've imagined and imagine what I remember."
"I missed everybody. To be alive is to be missing."
"We settled into a silence, and I felt the sky's bigness above me, the unimaginable vastness of it all — looking at Polaris and realizing the light I was seeing was 425 years old, and then looking at Jupiter, less than a light-hour away from us. In the moonless darkness, we were just witnesses to light, and I felt a sliver of what must have driven Davis to astronomy. There was a kind of relief in having your own smallness laid bare before you, and I realized something Davis must have known: Spirals grow infinitely small the farther you follow them inward, but they also grow infinitely large the farther you follow them out."
"...in writing it down, you realize, love is not a tragedy or a failure, but a gift."