Book review: “Looking for Alaska”


Miles Halter is introduced in the book as the nerdy, shy and awkward outsider at Culver Creek Boarding School. Later in the story, he meets characters such as Alaska Young, Chip Martin, Takumi Hikohito and Lara Buterskaya, who all have a strong influence on his development. Photo by: Alex Hoskins

Alex Hoskins and Christian Montecino

A look into the minds of troubled teens when it comes to love, loss and life

If you’re a fan of the hit novel, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” then look no further. “Looking for Alaska” is John Green’s debut young adult novel. Green also wrote the award-winning book, “The Fault in Our Stars,” and many other popular young adult novels that can be seen on shelves almost everywhere. Over time, “Looking for Alaska” has sold around 45 million copies. The book was published in 2005, yet now more than ever, it is being banned in numerous counties and schools due to some parents believing the book to be sexually explicit. The story follows Miles “Pudge” Halter, a high school junior from Orlando, Fla., looking to leave home. Miles decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama. He is obsessed with the journey and destination of  “the great perhaps.” The concept of “the great perhaps” originates from the poet François Rabelais’ last words. During Halter’s journey at Culver Creek, he meets a mysterious but captivating girl named Alaska Young, who, coincidentally, also has an obsession with a poet’s last words.

 English teacher Elizabeth Mainz said,  “I did like the character of Alaska. I just felt like I would rather have the book focus on her instead of on the boy, because as far as I was concerned, she’s the one that’s interesting in the story. With what she was going through and the kind of history she had, I would have liked to know more about her point of view.” 

Alaska is obsessed with the words spoken by poet Simón Bolívar about “the labyrinth of suffering” and how to escape it. Alaska believes that these words sum up her universe, and she uses them to describe her personal perspective on life to others. She immediately steals Halter’s heart with her recklessness and cleverness. In turn, she drags Halter down a rabbit hole of adventure, regret, growth and mystery.

Jack Gallo ’23 (center) said, “I’ve read [“Looking for Alaska”] enough to enjoy it and know it’s worth the read.” Photo by: Alex Hoskins
This story can really resonate with young adults because it illustrates life so well. It also touches on many heavy topics such as mental illness, alcohol abuse, dealing with loss and so much more that high schoolers should read and know about in this day and age. 

Kaya Frasier ‘24 said, “I would definitely recommend this book. I thought it was good because it talks about a lot of relevant things like alcohol abuse and stuff like that.”

This is when the question arises of whether or not these topics should be included in high school reading curriculums at all. 

Mainz said, “I don’t think there’s any reason those topics shouldn’t be talked about. I mean it’s like with any book, if you don’t wish to read about that kind of thing you don’t have to read the book. Even at school, I do try to work with kids who are like ‘I really don’t want to read about this’ and I figure out something else to fulfill the assignment instead, but I think it’s good to not shy away from hard things because we as teachers do have kids in our classes, even in ninth grade, who have like dealt with those things already. It’s a part of real life and it’s not just fiction in a book for some students.” 

Green transports you to a new world and it feels as though you’re watching as a spectator as Halter’s story unfolds right before your eyes. 


Frasier said, “I really liked it, it was a good read and I liked the ideas John Green gave.” 

The book is not only a great piece of literature because of the story it develops into, but it can also encourage people to be aware of topics such as mental illness, alcohol abuse and dealing with loss.

 Students who struggle with these things may feel isolated from the people around them. However, books like “Looking for Alaska” that refuse to ignore controversial topics may help this demographic find some sort of comfort or even closure.