Looking for Alaska by John Green
Moving from one place to another is a tough thing to handle, especially to a child. The challenge of having to face the daunting prospect of finding new friends and be able to adjust to a new school is a lot. This is exactly what the main character Miles Halter, also Pudge(a nickname given to him by his friends at Culver Creek high school), experiences when leaving Florida to go to the school. Moreover, the school is a boarding school, adding to the challenge of having to live on your own, and finding friends to accept you for who you are. Eventually he settles in, and Miles makes friends with his roommate Chip Martin, also “The Colonel", and a girl named Alaska.
After meeting with his new friends in addition to other friends made at Culver Creek such as Takumi and Lara, Miles has to literally adapt to the atmosphere of the high school, as he starts gaining habits such as smoking and pranking while dealing with tests and seniors. However, instead of regarding this as bad, Miles feels as if these things are liberating and giving him freedom to do what he wants and explore his personalities. He also is deeply bonded with his friends, where a good relationship is necessary, for him to have a high self-esteem and seek protection when needed.
These “big” ideas, which are friendship and freedom, are promulgated and are integral part of who Miles is. They complement each other, as he needs friendship to have freedom and he needs to have the freedom to have a good friendship. For example, before Miles left to attend Culver Creek, his dad told him to avoid smoking and alcohol. However, a few days after he meets his friends, he discovers they smoke routinely, and starts to smoke too. This defiance towards his parents allows him to be free, while allowing him to integrate with his friends in order to have a better relationship. My initial reaction to this was shock, as I would not be so quick to ignore what my parents say; however, after continuing to read the story, this actually falls in line with Miles’ personality, as he starts to drink “booze” as well.
Last but not least, the structure of the story is based on an event, where every section headline is based off of how many days the event will occur and how many days were past when the event occurred. This event concerns Alaska and how a tragic accident that happens one day, where Miles will have to deal with the aftermath of having to live life without her. This shows his emphasis on his friendship with her and how she was an important person to him. They were getting close, to the point where they could have become boyfriend and girlfriend, but the tragedy proved to be devastating to him. I was surprised when this happened, since I knew how much of an effect it would have on him, and the emotional loss that Miles would be dealt with. As a reader, it made me feel what my reaction would be if I lost a friend, a family member, or a pet so dear to me and how I would react.
Miles' survival depends on friendship and freedom in order to sustain himself and keep him happy. The loss of his would-be girlfriend Alaska, severed an important part of him, as it broke the friendship that he needed to be happy. That, in turn, deprived him of the freedom he had when being with his friends. His emotional distress became evident, as his friends had to comfort him to provide him “life-support”, for Miles to handle the devastating loss.
I recommend this book to anyone who not only likes romance, but to anyone who is interested in understanding what people deal with when moving and how to adapt to that. I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. What would you feel if you moved? How would you react if you lost a family member or a friend? Write in the comments below!