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Looking For Alaska    by John Green order for
Looking For Alaska
by John Green
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

High school junior Miles 'Pudge' Halter has few friends. Convinced his life has been one big nonevent, he wants more. Miles is also obsessed with famous last words, preferring to read biographies of well-known people rather than their actual work. He craves poet François Rabelais's Great Perhaps. Tired with his dull life at home, he convinces his parents to let him seek his Great Perhaps at Culver Creek Boarding School, his father's alma mater. Author John Green launches Miles into a crazy, anything-but-boring world in the book, Looking for Alaska.

Miles arrives at Culver Creek into a world of haves and have-nots. His roommate, known as the Colonel, shows him the ropes - teaching him the ins and outs of circumventing school rules by smoking in the bathroom with the shower on and drinking vodka mixed with milk. But the best part for Miles is the girl down the hall - Alaska Young. She's gorgeous, smart, fascinating, funny, and screwed up. She captivates Miles and launches him into his Great Perhaps. Along the way, the Colonel, Alaska, Miles, and their friend Takumi team up to play pranks on the hated wealthy Weekday Warriors at Culver Creek. Between munching on the school cook's delicious bufriedos (fried burritos), hanging out with zany friends, and studying hard, Miles finally feels like he's found his niche - until disaster strikes. Then he is forced to evaluate all that he knows, using the context of a world religions class, as he and his friends struggle to unravel the events of one terrible night that will change them all forever.

In Looking for Alaska, John Green creates an entertaining and thought provoking story. He wields words with the skill of a master - unusual for a first time author. It is a story of longing, both sweet and tough at the same time. The book quickly swept up awards - an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a 2005 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and the Michael L. Printz Award - just to mention a few. Green's second book, An Abundance of Katherines, is also not to be missed.

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