If there’s one thing I’ve learned about personal relationships and perceptions of yourself, is that you’re constantly adapting – one period of time that your sense of identity is challenged and forged is in the latter years of education: in particularly high school and university.
When I first picked up Looking For Alaska, I was at a stage of my life where I was craving for the ‘deeper’ meaning in books. Something that would make me feel like the prodigal son of enlightened literature – I had left to explore the world of books, and unfortunately, I had not kept an opened mind. (Coincidentally, the very opposite of being open to suggestion.) I had scoffed at John Green’s novel, the very ignored its acclaim and popularity, purely because it was of the Young Adult genre.
Thankfully, I was proved thoroughly wrong by John Green. We follow the role of new student and most idealistic character, Miles Halter. Hailing from Florida, he seeks to find his own ‘Great Perhaps.’ in a boarding school in the Deep South. For the uninformed, Miles is entranced with the last words of famous people before they die. In this circumstance, Miles’ words stem from French Renaissance writer and humorist, Francois Rabelais. I believe in the events of Looking for Alaska, that Miles’ Great beyond is explored and exemplified by the relationship he shares with the titular character, Alaska.
While Alaska herself is an emotionally troubled girl, the relationship between the two characters is found to be remarkably strong. However, as with all first-person narratives as readers we must express caution – we are only provided with the thoughts of of Miles – and every event that happens is recorded through Miles perspective.
I believe that within Looking for Alaska, that Miles embodies the idealistic and naive views of young adults growing up. Miles romanticises the time he spends with Alaska, which further helps the reader understand the Romantic notion of The Great Perhaps. As a whole, none of us want to live a life full of ‘maybes’ and ‘what ifs.’ John Green’s novel completely turned the tables on my perceptions of YA literature. Instead of meeting a novel with shallow characters and forced situations, I was given a rare input into the process of an identity being made.
What are your thoughts on Looking For Alaska, or YA Lit as a whole? Let me know!