It's one of those books that anyone can relate to, that seems to be telling the story of your own life. It's one of those books that you think everyone should read, but you don't know who to recommend it to. It's "Looking For Alaska," the first novel of National Public Radio commentator John Green, that tells the story of Miles (or Pudge, as his friends call him) and his first year living away from home at a boarding school in Alabama.
It's a year of a lot of firsts for Miles, actually. Once mildly nerdy, friendless, and studious, at Culver Creek Preparatory school Miles immediately meets up with kids whom his parents would call "the wrong crowd." They smoke, they drink, they pull pranks, they're casual about sex, they break rules; and they're also the best friends that Miles could ever have. His roommate Chip (a.k.a. The Colonel) and fellow conspirator Takumi greatly influence Miles, but no one has as much power over him as Alaska Young, the savvy, sexy, smart, and screwed- up "girl next door" that Miles falls for the moment he arrives. The novel follows the group of friends throughout classes, conversations, and confessions that teach Miles and the reader about "the Great Perhaps," the undiscovered country of possibilities that is this life.
As opinioned above, this is a book everyone should read, but I have a hard time recommending it to young readers. It seems more marketable toward older teens or even adults, as Miles and his friends drink copious amounts of alcohol, use mature language, and experiment with physical desire. But in looking past the parts of questionable content, readers who discover this book will discover more than lasting lessons of life - they will discover parts of themselves.