The whys and wherefores of re-reading.
George Harrison and a blog recommendation.

On Looking for Alaska.

AlaskaI have always held fond memories of reading John Green's first YA novel, Looking for Alaska. I must speak of it fondly more than I know, because recently my sister checked the book out and read it too. So because she was reading it, and because I've wanted to for a long time, I went ahead and re-read it.

A lot of the time I am a huge proponent of re-reading books. I think you always find something new in them or, more likely, you bring something new or changed in yourself to a familiar story. But sometimes, rarely, a re-read bites you in the ass.

It did this time. I still really liked the book--but I did not love it as much as I remembered. I don't know what has changed. I still think it is a very well-written and thoughtful book, so I think whatever has changed has changed in me. Perhaps as I age ever farther away from the YA demographic I am less able to even remember that time in my life and relate. That thought is as depressing as hell, but I'm not sure what else it could be.

I won't say much else about it, except to say that I think I'd still recommend it if you're in the mood for a good coming-of-age YA novel. And why would I say that? Because it contains lines like the following, written by the main character, when he is trying to figure out tragedy, suffering, and his own belief system:

"But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail." (p. 221.)

It feels like I've been failing at almost everything lately, so it was nice to read that. It's a heartening thought, no matter how far away from the YA demographic you are. In retrospect? I'm still glad I re-read it.