Published in 2005 by Dutton Books, this book was awarded the Michael L. Printz Award by the American Library Association in 2006.
In this coming-of-age story, Miles "Pudge" Halter decides to go in search of "the Great Perhaps" and convinces his parents to move him from their home in Florida to the Culver Creek Preparatory School in Birmingham, AL. Pudge's father himself attended the boarding school as a teenager.
While there, he and several other students form a band of pranksters, engaged in a prank-war with the Weekday Warriors: another group of students at the school. Among his group is the beautiful, but self-destructive Alaska Young, who is the object of his 16-year-old desires.
When a tragic accident occurs, he and his friends left behind must sort out what happened, and what it all means to them. They also figure out how to pull off their last great prank.
"The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party."
My Initial Thoughts:
This is the first Young Adult novel written by a man that I am reading through this challenge. In fact, this is my first male-written contemporary Young Adult novel, period. Typically, unless the novel falls in the sci-fi, high fantasy, or magical genre, the Young Adult literature landscape appears dominated by female authors. As such, I am looking forward to seeing how this author presents his story. Will his take be any different? Or will there be no discernible difference at all?
Also, this book deals with often challenged themes such as smoking, drugs, underage drinking, sexual activity and death. A lot of books in this genre already feature these elements. Authors usually defend their use of these elements by saying that it reflects the reality of the issues that the modern teenager must deal with. I see the truth in that. As a teenager, I dealt with these same issues, even way back then. I look forward to learning how this author uses these sensitive issues throughout the story.
Looking for Alaska enjoys the acceptance of the high school education community, and is regularly listed as part of required reading in class. There's a reason for that, and I want to know why. What makes a book like this stand out to be taught in school. This book would never have made my required reading list in high school. Then again, that was over twenty years ago.
John Green was born in 1977 in Indianapolis, IN. He majored in English and Religious Studies at Kenyon College. After working as a publishing assistant and production editor at Booklist magazine, and living around the United States, Mr. Green and his family now live in Indianapolis.
Looking for Alaska was his debut novel. Since then he has published several other award-winning books such as An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances (in collaboration with Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle), and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan). His latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars (published date: 1/10/2012) is already receiving critical praise and is named one of the New and Notable Books of January 2012.
Mr. Green also runs a video-blog series with his brother, Hank, called Vlogbrothers on YouTube. You can follow him on Twitter as @realJohnGreen.