After six years of writing this book, John Green, the critically acclaimed author of The Fault in Our Stars finally publishes his new novel named Turtles All the Way Down. About 400 pages long, the setting of the book is in Indianapolis, Green’s own residence city.
The story is narrated by Aza who has mental issues. She is unable to escape her thoughts, and although she is physically healthy, she thinks that someday she will die from Clostridium difficile, or C. diff for short. That is, overtime her own bacteria will eat her inside out. She is always conscious about getting contaminated with bacteria and often swallows hand sanitizer to fight against it; i.e. she is a threat to herself. At the same time, she is a good student and also a great daughter.
While Daisy, her best friend, is a completely opposite person: energetic, present-minded and a fiction writer.
Daisy makes Aza meet his childhood billionaire friend Davis; after his dad disappears because of corruption charges on him. And there is a million-dollar reward for finding his whereabouts. Aza and Daisy get in touch with Davis purposely to get hold of any information regarding his dad’s disappearance; to win the reward accordingly for the college fund.
The first part of the book emphasizes on attempts made by Aza and her friend to find the billionaire’s dad.
In the other half, Davis and Aza find themselves falling for each other but neither of them ever confesses. In fact, Davis offered Aza the reward money to drop the search for his dad as he knew why she got in touch with him in the first place. She accepted it. So that what they shared between them did not result in any misconception that she was after his wealth, which is exactly not the only reason she kept in touch with him. Nevertheless, she shared the money equally with her friend Daisy.
After understanding the plot of the book, I found myself thinking that this was a typical love story of a rich boy and poor girl who eventually share heartbreak, where one of them finds out that he or she was getting used, but this twist gave a new direction to the story!
Eventually, the seriousness of Aza’s mental issues made Davis realize that he did not like the way things were between them. Aza could not even sit near him without freaking out and getting scared of the noise in her head; likewise, there was always a war going on in her head over bacteria contamination which made her very anxious around him. Davis wanted things to be more normal and therefore expressed his query to her.
At the end of the book, Aza and Daisy accidentally find out about the missing billionaire’s hiding place. He was found dead with a rotting body in a tunnel constructed by his very own company. As declared by the billionaire before his death, all of his wealth went to a Tuatara, a lizard, that Malik took care of and nothing went to his own children. Davis left the city with his brother to live in a rented apartment in a new place.
The story revolves around Aza’s mental behavior and her attempts to fight it.She always tried to convince her that her thoughts were not real life, rather she herself was the actuality of her existence. Aza’s character had something different to show, while her mental health issues are addressed as curable. The book also works as a message to all the ones suffering from any such mental issues that there is a solution to their problems; not abrupt but gradual.
“Dr. Karen Singh liked to say that an unwanted thought was like a car driving past you when you’re standing on the side of the road, and I told myself I didn’t have to get into that car, that my moment of choice was not whether to have the thought, but whether to be carried away by it”– an excerpt from the book.