Tuesday, 4 April 2017

LOOKING FOR ALASKA

LOOKING FOR ALASKA - BOOK COVER
Looking for Alaska is John Green's first novel, published in March 2005 by Dutton Juvenile. It won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, and led the association's list of most-challenged books for 2015 due to profanity and sexually explicit scenes. The story is told through teenager Miles Halter as he enrolls at a boarding school to try to gain a deeper perspective on life, and was inspired by Green's experiences as a high school student.

PLOT

 Miles Halter leaves Florida to attend Culver Creek Preparatory High School in Alabama for his junior year, quoting François Rabelais's last words: "I go to seek a Great Perhaps". Miles' new roommate, Chip "The Colonel" Martin, ironically nicknames Miles "Pudge" and introduces Pudge to his friends: hip-hop emcee Takumi Hikohito and Alaska Young, a beautiful but emotionally unstable girl. Learning of Pudge's obsession with famous last words, Alaska informs him of Simón Bolívar's: "Damn it. How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!"The two make a deal that if Pudge figures out what the labyrinth is, Alaska will find him a girlfriend.

On his first night at Culver Creek, Pudge is kidnapped and thrown into a lake by the Weekday Warriors, rich schoolmates who blame the Colonel and his friends for the expulsion of their friend, Paul. Takumi insists that they are innocent as their friend Marya was also expelled, but Alaska later admits that she told on Marya and Paul to the dean, Mr. Starnes, to save herself from being punished. Alaska sets Pudge up with a Romanian classmate, Lara. Unfortunately, Pudge and Lara have a disastrous date, ending with a concussed Pudge throwing up on Lara. Alaska and Pudge grow closer and he begins to fall in love with her, although she insists on keeping their relationship platonic.
The gang celebrate a series of pranks by drinking and partying, and an inebriated Alaska confides about her mother's death from an aneurysm when she was eight years old. Although she didn't understand at the time, she feels guilty for not calling 911. Pudge figures that her mother's death made Alaska impulsive and rash. He concludes that the labyrinth was a person's suffering and that humans must try to find their way out. Afterwards, Pudge grows closer to Lara, and they start dating. A week later, after another 'celebration', an intoxicated Alaska becomes amorous toward Pudge but tires and they fall asleep together.

In the middle of the night, Alaska receives a phone call which causes her to go into hysterics, insisting that she has to leave. Pudge and the Colonel distract Mr. Starnes and Alaska drives away while drunk, crashes her car, and dies instantly. The Colonel and Pudge are devastated and blame themselves, but learn that Alaska might have deliberately crashed to kill herself. The Colonel insists on questioning Jake, her boyfriend, but Pudge refuses, fearing that he might learn that Alaska never loved him. They argue and the Colonel accuses Pudge of only loving an idealized Alaska that Pudge made up in his head. Pudge realizes the truth of this and reconciles with the Colonel.

As a way of celebrating Alaska's life, Pudge, the Colonel, Takumi, and Lara team up with the Weekday Warriors to hire a male stripper to speak at Culver's Speaker Day. The whole school finds it hilarious; Mr. Starnes even acknowledges how clever it was. Pudge finds Alaska's copy of The General in His Labyrinth with the labyrinth quote underlined and notices the words "straight and fast" written in the margins. He remembers Alaska died on the morning after the anniversary of her mother's death and concludes that Alaska felt guilty for not visiting her mother's grave. In her rush, she might have been trying to reach the cemetery or might have committed suicide out of guilt. On the last day of school, Takumi confesses in a note that he was the last person to see Alaska, and he let her go as well. Pudge realizes that letting her go doesn't matter as much anymore. He forgives Alaska for dying, as he knows Alaska would forgive him for letting her go.

Download the book: Looking For Alaska.pdf

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