Aside from the unintended snow reference, the perfect picture to synthesize the message of John Green’s Looking for Alaska is a shot of a beautiful snowy street. While there are many different moral lessons, meanings, and messages in the novel one that really stood out is the idea that something can seem simply beautiful while really existing as a much more complex conundrum. The character Alaska is so alluring to Miles because her beauty and lively personality excites him. He almost falls in love with the idea of Alaska much in the same way people romanticize snowy days (“Winter Wonderland” for instance). While a snowy day may seem perfectly beautiful from a distance or from inside one’s warm home, in reality snow does a lot of damage, ruins plans, alters schedules, causes accidents, creates panic, and it is not even sustainable for humans to exist in for a long period of time. In the same way, Alaska may look stunning, and her troubled past may seem like somewhat of a beautiful darkness but in reality it is actually much more complex and leads to her downfall.
This book, by Sherman Alexie, is a great coming of age story about identity. The main character, Junior as he’s called on the rez or Arnold amongst the “white kids”, is very relatable because he is funny in his delivery and honest in what he says. Although he is younger than I am he speaks with maturity and the times that he does not (such as his incessant hormonal debacle), it was easy for me to identify with what he goes through because his experiences are common to most adolescents. I really enjoy how the book does not tell the reader how to feel but instead presents the reader with the raw happenings of Junior’s life, which ultimately leads the reader to draw his/her own conclusions from the novel.
It is extremely interesting to see how Sherman Alexie handled the issues of race and poverty in the story because often those topics are watered down when being delivered to young adults. Sherman Alexie does an amazing job of truthfully depicting the hardships Junior faces and the pure thoughts that he had during his transition from the rez to Reardan.
The development of Junior’s character through the use of his cartoons also offered a way for the reader to get to know Junior outside of his words (which he mentions in the story was his very point). Throughout the story his character developed and so did his relationships, something I think that most young adults experience in high school. Both the characters of Penelope and Rowdy were so deep and dramatic the reader feels a connection to the book that allows him/her to take from it what they feel applies to his/her own life and circumstance.
Picture Citation: CC BY-SA