A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that John Green's Looking for Alaska won the Michael J. Printz Award and many other literary awards. It's the story of a group of fun-loving, rule-breaking teens who are rocked by a tragedy and must process the grief and loss. There's lots of sex (descriptions of heavy kissing, oral sex, groping, references to masturbation, erections, making out, watching pornography), drinking, strong language (including "s--t" and f--k"), and smoking, including of marijuana, but nothing is gratuitous or glamorized. It all illuminates character and theme. This award-winning book is considered a modern classic and is on many high school reading lists. It can help both teachers and parents talk about loss, friendship, and the importance of self-discovery.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In LOOKING FOR ALASKA, Miles, tired of his friendless, dull life in Florida, convinces his parents to send him away to boarding school in Alabama so that he can seek "the Great Perhaps." There he meets his roommate and soon-to-be best friend, Chip, called the Colonel, and Alaska Young, the moody, gorgeous, wild girl who instantly becomes the object of his lust. Miles is quickly enlisted in their war against the Weekday Warriors, the rich kids who go home every weekend, and they bond over elaborate pranks, studying, and assorted rule-breaking. About halfway through the book a tragedy occurs, and those left spend the rest of the book trying to make sense of it, to solve the mystery it leaves behind, and to pull off one last, greatest-ever prank.
Is it any good?
This coming-of-age novel is gorgeously written, passionate, hilarious, moving, thought-provoking, character-driven, and literary. It deserves all the awards it's won. The characters may often behave badly, but they are vividly real, complex, and beautifully drawn -- and their stories can help readers start dealing with some big topics, like self-discovery and loss. Looking for Alaska is a hard one to put down. Since new chapters don't start on new pages, there's always a temptation to read just a little bit further. For the first half at least, readers will be grinning all the way -- and in the end, they will be moved, maybe even to tears.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the mature content iin Looking for Alaska, including a frank sex scene. Do you think including it was essential to the story? What does it tell readers about the characters?
What does Miles mean when he goes off to boarding school in search of what 16th-century French author Francois Rabelais called "the Great Perhaps"? Do we all need to go on a similar search to discover ourselves?
Why do you think Looking for Alaska has often turned up on the American Library Association's Most Frequently Challenged book list? Why do you think it remains so popular with teens years after it was originally published?
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