Paper Towns, John Green


“Just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t how they actually are.”

I could have gone to sleep at 11 last night, which is a reasonable time for adults who work in the morning to go to sleep. Instead I read this book by John Green, because I am in every way a failed adult. Meaning to read about 100 pages and then call it a night, I instead read the whole darned thing.

Oh, John Green. I know I’m supposed to read important books, I know I talk a big game about Nabokov and Derrida and postmodernism, I know there’s this idea that exists of girls with bookshelves like mine. But John Green, I keep your books on bookshelves like mine. Without shame or hesitation, I love your books, John Green.

I’m not afraid to say that because I think there are lessons in YA that you can appreciate even if you have to pay taxes. This book has some of those. We all create myths of each other, and Q, the protagonist, turns Margo Roth Spiegelman into a hell of a myth (she has no idea how utterly unprecedented she is, after all). I won’t spoil this, but my favourite part of the novel was Q’s discovery that she is more girl than myth. We forget that about each other, that everyone is fighting their own battle. How we imagine each other is so far removed from the realities of our lives, they often have nothing to do with each other. We’re all, always, creating illusions for and of each other. I’m not so far removed from PCOM 510 that I can’t analyse this using Goffman’s theory of the presentational self, but I think Matthew might kill me if I don’t lay off the communications theory for a hot minute.

Although his language is sometimes overblown, Green usually succeeds in creating a charming cast of supporting characters, and he did that here. Q and his friends all really like each other, except when they don’t, and they’re there for each other in the way only high school seniors can devotedly be. I would’ve loved to have a friend like Radar in high school. Or just to have John Green in my English class. That would have been an improvement.

Except, okay. Diversion/rant incoming. I know exactly why I love John Green, and it’s the same reason I dug Will Grayson, Will Grayson so much last year, and it’s because his characters remind me so much of the people I love. In this book, Q’s mom reminds me of my mom, who as I often state is the best person who’s ever lived. And Radar and Ben and Lacey and all their interactions remind me hugely of my friends. John Green writes real people. He writes real things. The characters take a road trip at the end, and I can just imagine a minivan filled with my favourite people (an ever-expanding list, how lucky is that?) pulling off six minute gas station pit stops and reciting endless inside jokes while we speed down the highway, because that is a thing that has happened in my life. I might be an introverted jerk a lot of the time, and I often say that I like myself more than I like other people, but that’s not true. I’m pretty cool, but the thing that makes my life so great is all the people in it. So thanks to John Green for the opportunity to rant about them.

Books Read: 13


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s