3:00 pm EDT, October 11, 2017

‘Turtles All the Way Down’ review: John Green is back, ladies and gents

As a lover and very frequent consumer of audiobooks, I jumped at the chance to read and review John Green’s latest in this absolutely consuming form. I could not be more glad to have experienced this story this way. Aza’s struggles are so internal and self-contained that hearing her voice tell her story was a remarkable way to experience Turtles All the Way Down.

John Green’s first since 2011’s The Fault in Our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down is a perfect example of why audiobooks can be an even more immersive way to experience a story. Especially one as personal and complicated as Aza’s.

About ‘Turtles All the Way Down’

“It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Turtles All The Way Down book cover

‘Turtles All the Way Down’ audiobook review

We all like different books. Giving the same book to 100 people would get you 100 different responses to what goes on inside its pages, and would show how the circumstances that shape those 100 peoples’ lives affect how they see the events of the story as they unfold. Turtles All the Way Down shows that anxiety is much the same.

Anxiety is different for every person. While some may only feel its most mild forms and find it rarely debilitating, others, like Aza in this story, find the simplest of things impossible to do thanks to the demon, the microbes, or whatever you want to call it. While some in Aza’s life are aware of her battle with this force, none of them have the ability to walk in her shoes. Her mother, best friend, and psychiatrist, amongst others, try to sympathize with Aza, but empathy is out of their reach.

However, empathy is not even foremost in Aza’s mind. She’s frustrated with her own failures in normalcy. She wants to be able to ignore the thought spirals when they come, but finds it continuously impossible to do. They consume her mind and body until she has no choice but to give in to their demands, even when she knows the harm they’re doing to her body and her psyche.

While this story is definitely about Aza and her struggle to enjoy life with this disease, it’s also about a whole lot more. It’s about loss and how everyone grieves differently. It’s about friendship and how even the strongest ones fray and show weak spots over time. It’s about understanding, and how hard it is to truly see the world through a different person’s lense. It’s about living the life you have and finding a way to navigate through the toughest spots to discover love, joy, peace, and patience wait on the other side. It’s about defining who you love and how you love for yourself.

I could not be more grateful for having experienced this story for the first time as an audiobook. So much of this story takes place in Aza’s head. Her internal battles and constant commentary were so immersive in audio form. I felt like this story was perfectly suited to be enjoyed as an audiobook, because it allowed me to go about my day while also living through Aza’s, much in the same way she would push through her daily life.

I hope this story goes on to help people get a better understanding of just how varied anxiety can be. Tasks that can be easy for one person may be next to impossible for another. Seeing how differently we each experience the world can only help make us all more capable of empathy and ready to support each other through whatever craziness life throws our way.

Turtles All the Way Down is available now in both ebook and audiobook form in many places. Check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound and get yourself a copy today. Oh, and don’t forget to add it on Goodreads, too!

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