on August 24, 2007
Miles Halter is the type of high-schooler who always faded into the background at his public school in Florida. He had few friends, by choice as much as by fate, and wanted only to study his passion--memorizing the last words of people who had died. After reading the dying words of poet Francois Rabelais, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps", Miles is convinced that there's more to life than what he's so far experienced.
So Miles sets off to spend his junior and senior years at Culver Creek, a private boarding school in Alabama. There he gains his first nickname "Pudge" (a misnomer, by far, since Miles is quite skinny); meets his first love, Alaska Young; has his first sexual encounter with a Romanian girl named Lara; and gains two great male friends, Chip "The Colonel" Martin and Takumi Hikohito. He also experiences the joys and sickness of getting drunk, the strangeness of smoking cigarettes, and the unadulterated pleasure of playing pranks.
Pudge's new group of friends have their own quirks--The Colonel memorizes countries, capitals, and populations; Alaska collects books for her Life's Library that she hasn't yet read; Takumi relishes being The Fox. They all work together to irritate their teachers, avoid confrontation with The Eagle, the school's dean, and pull off pranks against the rich Weekday Warriors that are the popular clique at Culver Creek.
But LOOKING FOR ALASKA is mostly the story of growing up, of falling in love, of dealing with loss, and getting through life as best that you can. With wonderful dialogue, fascinating prose, and characters that are so real you'll think you know them personally, this is a book well worth reading. Not just is it the story of a group of teenagers looking to find their way out of the labyrinth of loss, or just the story of finding our Great Perhaps, LOOKING FOR ALASKA is about living the best life that can be led.
I loved this story, and highly recommend it. Once you do, you'll realize it's no surprise that it won the Teen's Top 10 Award and the Michael J. Printz Award--in fact, it probably deserves more.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius"
on April 23, 2015
Miles is in search of The Great Perhaps. (Aren't we all?) He ends up meeting a beautifully troubled Alaska. A darkly fascinating girl he so badly wants to get tangled up in. She is endlessly fascinating, while his only gimmick is his ability to recall famous last words.
This book drove me crazy and broke my heart. Definitely my favourite book by the always amazing John Green.
on July 14, 2006
I purchased "Looking for Alaska" on the recommendation of the staff of my local bookstore, after an exhausting search for a quality book for my teen son. My son enjoyed it immensely, barely putting it down. My daughter devoured it next and I was stealing it from her when she was doing other things. Yes! The book is that good!
John Green has written a stunningly insightful novel whose characters are real, and situations are familiar to many teens, as is evidenced by the fan mail to his website.
I could rave on and on about what a good book this is, but I won't. The book won the Michael L. Printz Award, and has been nominated for other awards.
Just order it. For a guy or a girl, or yourself order it!
on January 28, 2013
I would have to say that John Green is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. I loved Looking for Alaska. There is something about Green's writing that captures me. There is an honesty and a quirkiness that explores both huge themes and minute details.
Pudge, who is obsessed with people's last words, is fed up with his life and goes to boarding school looking for the Great Perhaps. There he meets a whole new group of friends courtesy of his roommate, The Colonel. At the centre of them is Alaska, who is beautiful, smart and messed up.
Pudge is a great character, someone so many teens can probably relate to on some level - looking for meaning in their life, trying to fit in, getting picked on, listless... Alaska, on the other hand, is feeling many of these same things, but goes about finding her answers in a whole different way.
It is hard to say too much about this book without giving away the plot. I can say, though, that Green's writing is beautiful and engaging. He's got such a way with words, and this, along with his unique view of things, makes for great books. Each chapter has a countdown to a specific event, which certainly adds to the intrigue of the book as well as creates some urgency.
I think teens, both boys and girls, will really enjoy this book. These are characters that stay with the reader for long after the book is finished. One thing to note: there is a lot of content that some people may find controversial such as drinking, smoking, and sex.
on November 29, 2003
A fellow commuting neighbor told me I just had to listen to Peter Jenkins latest adventure book, LOOKING FOR ALASKA. I had read his monster best seller A WALK ACROSS AMERICA when I was in college and enjoyed it immensely. I listen to audio books all week long as I travel to work on the California highway system. This is one of the best audio books I have ever listened to. I felt like I was under that Brown Bear as it was biting through that man's skull. I was there when Peter and his talented daughter, Rebekah, were in kayaks next to icebergs and glaciers and even teared up as they both wrote of that intensely moving, rare father/daughter moment. I became for a time one of the Eskimo whalers living on the slab of ocean ice.. An incredible experience. Loved hearing Peter read the book, and his daughter, Rebekah, read the portions of the book she wrote, as well. This listening experience, over twelve hours of it, was why I prefer the actual author reading their work. They may not be as dramatic or their voices are not as trained but it is a more real, more moving for me. AND, really loved the natural sounds of Alaska and the brief voice excerpts of some of the main characters they used. This book on tape should win some award. Justina from California by way of The University of Michigan
on November 30, 2002
As I professor of writing, I have been deeply impressed with Peter Jenkins writing and the refinement and improvement it has shown over the years. Every one of his books is very different, a tribute to his adaptability and skill.
We teach that everyone should develop an original style, he has done that, a deceptively simple, yet often profound one. He allows his subjects to live, a rare talent of his to be sure.
I noticed in a newspaper article about him that this latest book, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, probably his best piece in so far as capturing a place won BookList's "TOP TEN LITERARY TRAVEL BOOK of the YEAR."
I remember arguing with a collegue that Jenkins was literary in his own way, I guess others are saying it now.
BRAVO Peter, another fantastic journey you have taken us on, keep developing that style.
I predict your books will still being read and published, like your 25 year old A WALK ACROSS AMERICA, when most of the other best sellers of today are gone.
on November 16, 2002
More than 20 years ago, Peter Jenkins took a walk across America. He took me along, as he did many other people. I read both installments in National Geographic, then went out and bought his story in paperback (remember those small paperback books?). I must admit, I have not read Peter's other books. However, after returning from a one week bicycle ride through Alaska, and while searching the internet to feed my hunger on Alaska, there was Peter's newest book, not yet out, but "coming soon."
Peter Jenkins and his family spent 18-months taking us to parts of Alaska we will never have the opportunity to see, other than through their eyes. I found myself in awe of them, and the Jayne family, when they traveled to the Jayne homestead in the bush. Another time it was thrilling to sit on the edge of the Arctic Ocean waiting for whales to bring food, warmth and clothing to the people who live in this forbidding part of the world. The day to day living of Peter and his family at their home south of Anchorage was filled with fun and excitement. Hobo Jim entertained, if only via Peter's written word.
The photos were beautiful; although no photo truly captures Alaska. The blue of her sky is the most beautiful in the world. My only complaint about Looking For Alaska was that it ended. Make this book a part of your personal library. It is a must for anybody who has even one drop of adventure coursing through his or her veins.
on July 14, 2002
Peter Jenkins has accurately defined Alaska like no other! From Hydaburg to Seward, into Aialik Bay on a kayak, and down the Haul Road to visit "bushy" Alaskans on Chandalar Lake - Peter weaves his storytelling magic to bring the most majestic and unruly place to life on the pages in front of us.
With undeniable talent, his 20 year old daughter Rebekah pens her experiences as her father's sometimes companion and explorer. Her easy flowing words are soul searching and have an instant effect on readers. I thought her literary contributions in the book LOOKING FOR ALASKA were the perfect touch!
This book presents itself as a love letter to Alaska. All the miles that Peter traveled almost seem as if he wanted to explore every part of the beautiful, sometimes dangerous, state; as if he couldn't miss a single acre. The beauty of the book lay in the way he described the atmosphere, the glaciers, the animals. Each place Peter and his family visited came to life so vividly, as if it wasn't across the country, but only next door. To describe so accurately the lives and personalities of Alaskans is perhaps the best homage anyone could pay to the Alaska that most people take for granted.
It is refreshing to pick up a book and find that it is more than you hoped it could be, and if it can inspire you, that is even better! I am a first time Peter Jenkins reader and now I am on a massive search for all of his books! I don't know how I got along without them before! I wouldn't be surprised if LOOKING FOR ALASKA stirs up a lust for exploring in any soul.
on June 25, 2002
Do you ever wonder what Alaska is really like when the tourists go home and we Alaskans are left with Alaska? Well, this is the book. It tells all. I am a lifelong Alaskan. I am also one of those mentioned in "Looking For Alaska." Peter stayed with me for several days at WinterCabin B and B and experienced his first Alaska snow while here in Tok, Alaska. I'm a writer by profession and I read the entire book with a critical eye, looking for a problem, searching for a place where he may have "doctored" it up or glossed over something. He didn't. Peter Jenkins has done a superb job of telling it like it is. Moving his family to Seward, Alaska, he has traveled the entire state, going where his heart took him. And he captured it all. The good, the bad, and the glorius. If you want to know how we Alaskans live at any given moment, at any given time, in any given place, this is the book that tells all. I have never read a book that so carefully, and fully, captured the entire state, but this one does. This his best book yet. Told in simple layman's terms, it's an easy read. Whether you're an armchair traveler, just interested in Alaska, or if you're planning a trip to Alaska and you can only read one book, read Peter Jenkins' Looking For Alaska."
on May 20, 2002
I am a doctor, and technical reading is a large part of my job. During nine years of college and three years of residency I accumulated an astronomical number of technical reading hours. I read to pass test and stay current... period. You will not see me reading the newspaper on Sunday morning, and as for letters from home, I ask my wife what they say. To read for fun, I don't think so. Until my mother sent me this book "Looking for Alaska" by Peter Jenkins. She knows my love for Alaska after cooking on a seiner in Ketchican, working in canneries in Kenai and Homer, and being a student doctor in Barrow and a doctor in Seward. Also I've been to Dead Horse where the pipe line starts and Valdez where it ends. So I get this book in the mail. The first thing I notice, is how heavy it is, it has 434 pages as I usually check before starting to read. I had just recently been recertified, passing boards again, so my technical reading was at a low. My reading time is one to two hours in the tub most mornings, I'm there right now writing this review. I get that particular habit honest, my dad, a retired school teacher, used to correct tests in the tub. My sister, a lawyer, studied her way through law school in the tub. So one morning I set a cup of coffee on the tub ledge right, and the cordless phone on the left and started Peter Jenkins book, "Looking for Alaska". The author moves his family to Seward, AK, to get the true Alaskan experience for his book. If you have never been to Alaska you can get there for the price of the book. If you have been there or live there now, Peter will take you to places you haven't been, or revisit some of your favorite towns. He doesn't try to impress you with poetic descriptions of sunsets- his writing is just real. When Peter goes fishing in Southeast Alaska and describes the feeding whales, you're there. To travel sixty miles by snow-machine, to experience bush living, you're riding along. During a dangerous encounter with brown bears, you're thinking, I know this guy walked across America but I still think I can outrun him. Next you're back in time whale-watching in Barrow. "Looking for Alaska," really captured the heart and soul of Alaskan life, and Alaskan people.