"Turtles all the way down" is about a girl and her best friend trying to solve the mystery of a missing billionaire, who is also the father of one of her childhood friends.
The book explores mental health, and how it affects relationships with others. It also includes issues like dealing with the loss of a loved one, and how it feels to have a family member go missing. John Green, the author, has personally suffered from some of the issues within the book and his experiences help to give an accurate insight into the struggles of mental health.
The main character is Aza Holmes, a girl who suffers with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). By highlighting the characters flaws and showing that she is in no way perfect, made the book more relatable for me, even as someone who doesn't suffer with OCD. Aza has flaws similar to many people, as in a way she is so stuck in the bubble of her own life she doesn't realise the troubles that those around her are going through, particularly her best friend. The journey as she learns to become a better friend shows that deep down she isn't a selfish character, she just doesn't realise that she is ignoring things that are happening to her friend. It also shows the importance of accepting when you are wrong and apologising. The style of the writing gives the readers a look into her mind, and how she can't control or escape her thoughts.
One of the parts I liked most about the book, was that it showed how hard it is to explain mental health to others and how it affects relationships with family and friends. The title of the book is actually a metaphor for this, and is used to explain how it feels impossible for Aza to stop or ignore her own thoughts. I think that the book could help mental health sufferers to find ways to show their family and friends how they really feel. For example, to not be ashamed and keep things a secret. Aza constantly ignores her mums offers to sit and talk or help her, but when she finally lets her know that she is really struggling and shows her the things going on in her life things become much better in both their relationship and Aza’s life. She also starts to listen to her therapist and doctors instead of not doing what they say as she realises that they are trying to help her, not go against her.
The main lesson that the main character learns in the story, is to not let her mental illness take over her life. By the end of the book, she learns to accept certain things, and what things are truly important to her. She figures out that her family and friends have feelings too that she needs to consider, and that everyone has different problems instead of her mindset that she is the only one who is suffering in life which she seems to have at the beginning of the book. She also learns that although she may be suffering herself, it is important to listen to others and be there for your loved ones when they need it. You never know what is going on in other people's life and sometimes you don't know lucky you are. We get so caught up in our own problems that we forget that other people don't have perfect lives either.
Whilst I don't want to spoil the ending, I think it is important to talk about. Some people may find it disappointing, as it doesn't end the way you may expect. It shows how life isn't perfect but you can still make the most out of what you have. Sure, Aza has lots of issues with more than just mental health but by working hard to resolve them, she fixes her relationships with her family and friends but moves away from something that she knows won't work out well for her or the other characters involved.
Overall, I think that the book gives a strong message and represents mental health issues in a way which isn't sugar coated. It reflects how people really feel which is important since I feel that the media doesn't usually represent mental health accurately.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.