It’s well-documented that I am neither a Rainbow Roweller nor a John Greener. I typically don’t find the earnest-hipster-loner-pop culture throwback to be all that appealing of a trope, which explains where some of my dislike originates. I had no intention of checking out Turtles All the Way Down, until I heard a Fresh Air interview that Terry Gross conducted with Green. And it was compelling. I had no idea he had OCD, and hearing him discuss the writing process and applying it to Aza convinced me that I needed to read the book.
Aza is our protagonist, and she has OCD. Her best friend Daisy writes Star Wars fanfiction and is trying to make ends meet, while they both float through high school. And then a multi-millionaire goes missing, and his son went to a camp with Aza when they were children. The two friends strike up a friendship with Davis, and Aza finds out that her world is both macrocosmic and microcosmic, as she struggles to break the boundaries of her own mind.
At first, I felt that Turtles was falling into some of the Green Tropes—unique name, nerdy potential love-interest, and unusual circumstances in a small town. But Aza’s struggle with OCD brings about an original component to this novel. Green lays bare her “thought spiral” as she struggles to manage her anxiety and mind in a turbulent world. I also really liked the candid nature of her relationship with Daisy, as well as Davis. This was, to my mind, Green’s maturest work to date. I really appreciated this novel, and it’s really well-written.
Cross-posted to my blog.