I was never a die hard John Green fan. I’m sure whatever book I read first of his, was the reason why. Like a lot of other people, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS changed my opinion about the author and I gave his work a second chance. I’ve read several things by Mr. Green and have found myself pleasantly surprised by them. That’s the problem with stumbling across the one book by someone you won’t like first. It deters you from reading just about everything else you’d actually love. Enter TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of those things a lot of people say they have because they like things neat or a specific way, when really they’re just neurotic. I think it’s often misunderstood because it’s hard to explain. OCD tends to only be defined by the things we can see, (i.e. neatness, counting, opening and closing things, etc.) and not by the thoughts in someone’s head. I’ve always had what I’ve called quarks, neuroses, or ticks. It wasn’t until a few years ago, that I understood I was on the OCD spectrum. I suffer from panic attacks and anxiety as well. It’s not easy to talk about mental health. There is a stigma about it and it’s why books like this are so important.
In TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN the reader gets a rare experience of seeing inside of the mind of someone with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. 16-year-old Aza’s mind is at war with itself. You don’t have to have OCD to be able to understand what she’s going through or sympathize with Aza, you just have to be human. I watched one of Green’s volgs, where he talks about his own OCD and how this book is a way for him to share those experiences with his readers and the world. I highly recommend watching the 4-minute video which offers some insight into why this book came to be.
I think most of us would agree that THE FAULT IN OUR STARS was one of the best books John Green has ever written. A lot of people would argue that is still the case. But I’d like to argue in favor of this book instead. In favor of TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN which blows the doors wide open on a stigmatizing subject. Something we should all be more open to talking about: Mental Health.