“Paper Towns” by John Green
Anyone who enjoys excellent reading and a moving story about discovering yourself and how to understand those around you.
Regardless of how many years you are now removed from it, there are very few of us who don’t remember the giddy and surreal feelings that accompanied the ending of our high school years. There were so many unknowns and so much to look forward to while still wanting to enjoy every last cliched moment before graduation. Once everyone had left for college, it soon became apparent that most of us didn’t really know the others we went to school with for four years and that we honestly hadn’t even known ourselves. In “Paper Towns,” John Green explores the last-ditch effort of Quentin Jacobsen to understand what exactly makes up the girl he’s loved from afar since his childhood: Margo Roth Spiegelman. As he nears the end of his senior year, Quentin realizes that Margo is such an enigma that no actually knows who she is, and he makes it his mission to find out.
Quentin’s quest takes shape following one unexplainable night of unexpected adventures with Margo. While they’ve lived next door to each other throughout their childhoods and used to spend hours playing, Margo and Quentin haven’t been close in years — not since she became the queen of the monarchy that is the teenage social stratum. But one night she knocks on Quentin’s window and whisks him away for a night that challenges his personal boundaries and makes him realize that everything may just be a little too straight-forward inside their town — like it’s constructed of perfectly cut out paper.
When Margo disappears the day after their escapade, Quentin worries that the seemingly random night may have been her last hurrah before deciding that she couldn’t stand living the cookie-cutter lifestyle anymore. His concern leads him to obscure clues that Margo has left, seemingly hoping that Quentin will be the one to find her — although which state she’s in is unknown. As he races to find her before time runs out on graduation, Quentin not only learns that there is a lot more to the beautiful and elusive girl from next door but that there is a lot more to himself than just being an exceptionally well-adjusted teenager.
Aside from the relatable story of self-discovery, Green makes the book beautiful through his writing. There are countless quotable moments (as proved by their frequency on sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest) that stick with you and bring a sort of profound quality to the story and its characters. Green illustrates insights into the teenage mind and manages to put into perfectly fitting words what most of us felt when we were faced with the end of high school and all the multitudes of unknowns. While not as popular as Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Paper Towns” is a worthwhile read that is just as moving and heartfelt.
Image Source: Alexandra Marie under Creative Commons
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