Looking For Alaska Critical Review

Topics: Michael L. Printz Award, John Green, High school Pages: 2 (947 words) Published: March 10, 2015
Smoking cigarettes. Swearing. Drinking – lots of drinking. Sexual activity. Rule breaking – covertly, openly, and constantly. Depew (New York) School Board, the school boards of Knox and Sumner Counties in Tennessee and some conservative organizations banned, challenged and/or advocated against John Green’s 2005 novel, Looking for Alaska being taught in high school English classes, and even being available in school libraries.

Of course, they were – and are – completely wrong and incredibly shortsighted in attempting to do so. All they had to do to allay their fears of leading kids off the straight and narrow path of moral living was to read the book itself.

The book is written in a different format to most books, it’s divided into 2 halves. The first half of the book is the ‘before’ section, and the second half is the ‘after’ section. The book starts at ‘One Hundred and Thirty-six Days Before’ and counts its way down to ‘One Day Before’. Then ‘After’ Begins, ‘The Day after’, ‘Two Days After’ etc. Green designed this structure right after 9/11 when he started working in earnest on his first big draft of the story. He thought about how we construct time and how we always measure it in relationship to important historical events. Back then everyone was saying “we will now remember American history as before and after 9/11,” and that “we now live in a post-9/11 world.”

Looking for Alaska is the story of Miles “Pudge” Halter, an awkward, unpretentious boy who leaves home and public school for a boarding school in Alabama, the same one his father attended. Miles’ life so far has been uneventful, uninspired, and he hopes that attending Culver Creek Boarding School will allow him to find what the dying French Renaissance scholar François Rabelais deemed the “Great Perhaps.” (Miles has a fascination with famous last words.)

While at Culver Creek he befriends a motley assortment of kids, including his roommate, Chip “The Colonel” Martin (a...
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