Thursday, April 17, 2014

April BC BBC: Looking for Alaska

A few months ago I came around to the wonder that is Nerdfighteria and the Green brothers, and when I read the Fault in Our Stars, I had more of an emotional reaction to that book than I’ve ever had before.  So when I heard that Looking for Alaska had been challenged by high schools to keep it out of their YA curriculum, I really needed to know what the fuss was about.

From Goodreads

Looking for Alaska follows the story of Miles Halter, later nicknames Pudge, as he leaves his Floridian home for boarding school in Alabama.  He quickly gathers a group of friends and begins a romantic obsession with a young girl named Alaska.  The book is in two parts, before and after an event, which I will not discuss as to not divulge anything.  But you see their emotional and physical relationship develop throughout the novel.

This book has been controversial for a few reasons: smoking, drinking, and sexual content.  Parents have been quoted saying it is inappropriate for teens and encourages those behaviors.  Even going so far as to say it is pornographic.  I have to wonder, having read the book, if these parents know what porn is?  Because while the book features some sexual elements, it is far from porn.  What it is instead is the story of youth.  Shockingly enough, kids experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex.  Society most of the time has no problem bitching about “kids these days” so why are they so shocked that Green’s novel happens to encapsulate teens?  Another annoying part about attempting to ban a book from a curriculum is that you’re giving the book a “Forbidden Fruit” status.  So by saying the book is bad and not acceptable to read, they will probably find a way to read it on their own time.  So instead of banning the book from the curriculum, include the book and allow open discussion with teens about it.  There you go.

Quotes (note: there will be A LOT)

“‘I’s a-gonna learn how t’talk right Southern.’ [...] ‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ my dad said.” pg.7

“[...] between when I asked about the labyrinth and when she answered me, that I realized the importance of curves, of the thousand places here girls’ bodies ease from one place to another, from arc of the foot to ankle to calf, from calf to hip to waist to breast to neck to ski-slope nose to forehead to shoulder to the concave arch of the back to the butt to the etc. I’d noticed curves before, of course, but I had never quite apprehended their significance.” pg. 19

“I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.” pg.49

“Imaging the future is a kind of nostalgia.” pg.54

“You live for pretentious metaphors.” pg.59

“I wasn’t sure whether I liked her, and I doubted whether I could trust her, but I cared at least enough to try and find out.” pg.75

“‘God, ‘I love you’ really is the gateway drug of breaking up.’” pg.78

“‘I just did some calculations, and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.’” pg.78

“‘Because no one can catch the motherfucking fox.’” pg.104

“She taught me everything I knew about crawfish and kissing and pink wine and poetry.  She made me different.” pg.173

And obviously included in this lengthy list would be the obvious Great Perhaps and Hurricane/Drizzle metaphor.  While I would say I prefer the Fault in Our Stars, I did really enjoy this book and think that his style of writing is fantastic and this novel is something youth should read.  Young adults could easily identify with the thematic elements and maybe not feel so alone in the world.

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