- Looking for Alaska
infobox Book |
name = Looking for Alaska
author = John Green
language = English
Young adult novel
publisher = Dutton Books
release_date = 2005
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 221
isbn = ISBN 0-525-47506-0
"Looking for Alaska" is the first young adult novel by John Green, published in March 2005 by Dutton Juvenile. It won the 2006
Michael L. Printz Awardfrom the American Library Association.
Sixteen-year-old Miles "Pudge" Halter has no friends at his Florida high school. He instead buries himself in biographies of writers (though not their works). He is especially interested in the last words of famous people.
Tired of his safe life, Miles asks his parents to allow him to attend Culver Creek, a
boarding schoolin Alabama, which his father had once attended. There, for the first time in his life, he makes friends, especially his roommate Chip "Colonel" Martin and Takumi. Throughout it all, he cannot get over a girl named Alaska Young. Funny yet sullen, flirtatious yet committed to her boyfriend, she becomes somewhat of an obsession for Miles. Alaska shows him the last words "How can I ever get out of this labyrinth?" which she seems to use as her motto. Alaska is the one who helps Pudge get a girlfriend, Lara Buterskaya, during a weekend away from the school they spend at a barn. Alaska reveals that her mother died of a brain aneurysmwhen Alaska was a little girl and she did not know what to do to save her.
A few nights later, when Alaska is drunk, she makes out with Miles. Although this means that he has cheated on Lara, and Alaska has cheated on her boyfriend, Miles feels as if all his dreams have come true. Alaska has been his obsession, and Pudge is desperately in love. Not long after, Alaska drives off sobbing without explaining why. Fifteen minutes later, she smashes into a police cruiser on the highway, killing herself instantly. Miles and his friends are crushed, especially Miles and the Colonel, who aided her in leaving campus and did not mention that she should not be driving drunk. Miles and his friends set out to understand the circumstances of Alaska's death. Was it a suicide? Where was she headed? The Colonel and Miles realize that they never really knew Alaska and need to find out more about her if they want to understand what happened. They discover that Alaska in fact died on her way to her mother's grave, and Takumi reveals in a letter to both boys that he was the last person to talk to Alaska before she drove to her death, and that he let her go, too, thinking she was only looking for flowers. Dr. Hyde's religion class focuses greatly after Alaska's death around the labryinth of which Alaska so often spoke, and Pudge realizes in his final essay that to get out of the labryinth, you must keep living.
The book has been challenged for content dealing with sexually explicit situations. [citenews |url = http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/269801.html |title = Depew School Board Committee Will Review 'Coming-of-Age' Novel |work = The Buffalo News |author = Winchester, Laura E |date = 2008-02-06 |accessdate = 2008-02-09 |language = English ] [citenews |url = http://www.cheektowagatimes.com/news/2008/0117/Front_Page/002.html |title = Another Book Stirs Suitability Debate |work = Cheektowaga Times |author = Hopkins, John J |date = 2008-01-17 |accessdate = 2008-02-09 |language = English ] Two teachers at Depew High School near Buffalo, New York, used the book for eleventh grade instruction. A letter was sent to parents advising the book contained controversial content. An alternate reading selection was available for those opting out, and a small percentage of parents chose this option. Nevertheless, the book was challenged on the grounds that it is "pornographic" and "disgusting." The book was ultimately retained by the school board. [citenews |url = http://www.cheektowagatimes.com/news/2008/0306/Front_Page/001.html |title = 'Alaska' to Remain in Depew Classes |work = Cheektowaga Times |author = Hopkins, John J |date = 2008-03-06 |accessdate = 2008-03-08 |language = English ]
The main characters in the story are teenagers who also drink, smoke and use explicit language. [citenews |url = http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6253629.html | title = Why YA and Why Not: Blurring the Line Between Traditionally Distinct Markets. | author = Corbett, Sue |date = 2005-09-05 |access date = 2007-03-13 | language = English] The author has publicly defended his work. [cite web
last = Green
first = John
title = John Green's Weblog: I Am Not a Pornographer
accessdate = 2008-02-09
language = English ] "Some people say, 'You wrote a dirty, dirty book.' But there are very old-fashioned values and even a lot of religion in it," Green said. "There are some adults who think that the only kind of ethics that matter are sexual ethics. So they miss everything else that is going on in the book." [citenews |url = http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/14413 |title = John Green: From Bad Boy to Printz Award Winner |work = Scripps Howard News Service |author = MacPherson, Karen |date = 2006-11-07 |accessdate = 2007-03-13 |language = English ] Green also said, "The book has never been marketed to 12-year-olds. Never. It is packaged like an adult book; it doesn't even say it's published by a kids' book imprint on the cover, and it's never shelved in the children's section of bookstores." [cite web
last = Green
first = John
authorlink = John Green (author)
title = What to do About Sexually Explicit Teen Books?
work = AS IF! Authors Support Intellectual Freedom
publisher = AS IF!
url = http://asifnews.blogspot.com/2006/03/what-to-do-about-sexually-explicit.html
format = Blog
accessdate = 2008-02-13 ]
Indian Springs School, a boarding and day school outside of Birmingham, Alabama. During the time he was a student there, two students died under circumstances similar to Alaska's.cite news |url = http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/orlandosentinel/access/795875701.html?dids=795875701:795875701&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Feb+21%2C+2005&author=Aline+Mendelsohn%2C+Sentinel+Staff+Writer&pub=Orlando+Sentinel&edition=&startpage=E.1&desc=FROM+LAST+WORDS+TO+FIRST+BOOK+|title = From Last Words to First Book |author = Mendelsohn, Aline |work = The Orlando Sentinel |date = 2005-02-21 |language = English ]
According to John Green himself at a
book talkin Rivermont Collegiateon October 19th, 2006, he got the idea of Takumi's "fox hat" from a Filipino friend who wore a similar hat while playing pranks at Indian Springs School. From the same book talk, Green also stated that the "possessed" swan in Culver Creek came from his student life at Indian Springs School as well, where there was also a swan of similar nature on the campus. The two pranks that occur in the book are similar to pranks that Green pulled at his high school. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lht_JH2xi6w YouTube - John Green's Legendary High School Prank ] ] Green has also stated, while giving a talk at Indian Springs, that several of Culver Creek's teachers are direct caricatures of multiple faculty members at Indian Springs.
The film rights to the novel were acquired by
Paramount Picturesin 2005. Mark Waters and Jessica Tuchinskyare set to produce the movie and Josh Schwartz(creator of " The OC") will write the screenplay and direct the film. [Interview with Josh Schwartz, summer 2007, [http://buzzsugar.com/636867 http://buzzsugar.com/636867] ] A release date is expected in 2010. The movie is believed to have been renamed to "Famous Last Words". Fact|date=October 2008
* [http://www.sparksflyup.com/ John Green's web site]
* [http://www.indiansprings.org/ Indian Springs School, Indian Springs, AL]
*"Looking For Alaska" is on the [http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/teenreading/teenstopten/05TTT.htm ALA 2005 Teens' Top Ten]
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