What Looking for Alaska Taught Me About Life

Caution: There may be some small spoilers if you haven’t read the book, so go read the book to avoid said spoils.

My current (and probably all time) favorite book is Looking for Alaska by John Green. It’s a thought-provoking and outstanding piece of literature, and I learned some things about life that you don’t learn in other books.

For a little context, here is the summary written by John Green:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

People are Complex

The cast of characters in Looking for Alaska are deeply complex, which makes them so much more real in my eyes. Alaska herself is described as “gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating”, which is quite the hodge podge of mildly contradictory adjectives to describe a single human being. John Green shows us that it is possible to be many different things and still be a whole person.

Life is a Labyrinth

The labyrinth is a consistent motif in the book. A labyrinth is a large, mythological maze that is practically impossible to get out of, and life is the same way. We take wrong turns, retrace our footsteps, get lost, and follow others in the labyrinth of life, and it’s a difficult, but worthwhile journey. Yes, there are twists and turns, and sometimes it seems endless, but when coming to the end, it doesn’t seem quite as long.

Everyone Grieves Differently

Spoiler: Alaska dies. Her death inflicts pain on the entire school, but most deeply in her friends, and particularly in Pudge (who says the quote above). Each character has a different way of grieving for the loss of Alaska, and it reminds you that everyone reacts differently, and there is no wrong way to grieve or react. It makes you more open minded towards other people’s feelings.

There is a Great Perhaps

Pudge’s love of last words has led him to the phrase “I go to seek a great perhaps”, and his move to boarding school is his attempt at finding the said great perhaps before his death bed. The great perhaps does exist, but it may be a lot simpler than we think. It sneaks up on us, and we don’t realize it’s there until the moments become memories. Pudge’s great perhaps is his time with Alaska, and he doesn’t realize it until she is gone.

You Cannot Love Half A Person

Alaska makes it clear that Pudge only loves part of her, not all of her. It’s true that if you only love bits and pieces of a person, you don’t love them at all. True love is loving the fascinating book lover AND the sullen bitch.

The Biggest Enemy in Our Lives is Ourselves

Alaska defines herself as a deeply unhappy person. She has had a difficult past that has caused her to have a difficult present, and she blames herself for the bad things that has happened in her life. She is her own worst critic, which causes her to make rash decisions, which inevitably lead her to her death. And eve though she had the love of her friends, her own self-loathing was too strong. She is a reminder to us that we are always the harshest on ourselves, and maybe, for the sake of our own well-being, we should love ourselves more and forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made.

Honestly, this will be my top recommended book, which means all of you should go read it right now if you haven’t already.


16 Comments Add yours

  1. alyssa says:

    LFA is one of my favorite books. Every bit of it was captivating and wonderful and sad. I have to agree with all of these lessons, especially the grieving. I know people who would be silent and shut down whereas I ugly sob like I’m going to the Olympics for crying. And I wholly believe in The Great Perhaps. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. justinerae23 says:

    I love this book and John Green in general!!


  3. Great summary, you mentioned a lot of things I never picked up on!


  4. Sahar says:

    This book is on my TBR list–I favorited this post and will definitely be getting back to it when I’m reading it!


    1. Yes read it it is fantastic (and personally better than TFIOS)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sahar says:

        Oh really! Why do you think TFIOS got so much more attention?


      2. Probably because of the Cancer subplot, which sounds like a terrible thing to say on my part. Also, Looking for Alaska was John Green’s first book, and first books aren’t always a big as the latter

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sahar says:

        No, it doesn’t sound like a terrible thing! Some plots do get more attention because they are the ‘buzz’ of the moment. And a lot of people do not have the capacity to dig deep when it comes to reading. As long as everyone respects other people’s opinions–which you seem to!–then it’s all good in my mind!


  5. Haley Vest says:

    Such an interesting read, you mentioned things I would not have thought of!


  6. Sydne Summer says:

    I have been wanting to read this for a while! Can’t wait to check it out when I have more time to read this summer!


  7. Such a great book. I’m glad you liked it and it meant so much to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lindsay says:

    This sounds like a must read! I”ll have to go order a copy on amazon right now 🙂


  9. DT says:

    I love this book. I cried so much reading it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was one of those books where you finish it and don’t know what to do with yourself afterwards


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