Review of Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Format: Audiobook

How does a teen with mental illness cope with the recent death of her father? How does Aza maintain top grades in school, and continue to be a good friend? Can Aza open herself up to a romantic relationship? Can she stand all the pressure?

John Green is able to capture the tension and attraction in teen relationships like few other authors. Add to that the minefield of mental illness, and I think Green either did a tremendous amount of research for this book, or he already had a close knowledge of someone with similar symptoms. It is a complex and engaging scenario, and Green pulls it off with aplomb.

Turtles All the Way Down will appeal not just to the YA readers, it can easily draw out the empathy of a parent. Thankfully Aza’s mom has a good job with insurance, so when Aza’s world spirals out of control she is already established with a mental health professional. Thankfully when she needs in-patient treatment she isn’t shuffled out the door. Her own doctor sees her and has input in managing her case.

Is Aza cured? No. Most mental health illnesses are chronic. So it is likely that even with the best of treatment these same hospital staff will see Aza again. And again. There’s always worry when a child goes off to college. When your child has a mental illness any illusions of your control in their lives are removed from your grasp.

This can be a gut-wrenching read. Or, someone used to dealing with a chronic mental or physical disease may see it another way. Aza, her mom, and Daisy have taken a step toward being happy with “stable”.

#TurtlesAlltheWayDown @johngreen