Turtles all the way down. Un șir infinit de țestoase

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În anul 2017, parcă mai mult ca niciodată, am văzut multe discuții online axate pe sănătatea mintală. Nu în limba română bineînțeles, ci în limba engleză. Poate că e din cauza faptului că urmăresc oameni implicați în astfel de cauze sau care au sănătatea mintală drept preocupare frecventă fie că au un interes personal fie că se confruntă direct cu astfel de probleme. Când intri într-o bulă online, sistemul nu face decât să îți concentreze informația și mai mult în acea direcție, așadar aceasta ar putea fi o cauză a faptului că am rămas cu această impresie că cel puțin în UK discuția despre sănătatea mintala a fost în top.
Prin urmare, nu e de mirare că încep să apară mai multe cărți de ficțiune care se axează pe subiecte legate de sănătate mintala. Când am început să citesc cea mai nouă carte a lui John Green nu știam absolut nimic despre ea, am vrut să o citesc doar pentru că el a scris-o. Dintre cărțile lui le-am citit pe toate mai puțin una (Will Grayson, Will Grayson), însă preferata mea rămâne ”The fault in our stars”.

Titlul “Turtles all the way down” (”Un șir infinit de țestoase”) reprezentă o vorbă destul de cunoscută (nu și de mine) și face într-o anumită măsură referire la subiectul cărții, însă până nu o citești nu prea ai cum să-ți dai seama cum se potrivește în contextul poveștii chiar dacă știi deja ce înseamnă această vorbă. Continuă lectura „Turtles all the way down. Un șir infinit de țestoase”

„Paper towns” by John Green

 

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I have to admit that, up until stumbling upon this book, I did not know what paper towns were. Looking back, after have finished reading the book, it would have probably been better to not know what paper towns were, ensuring a much bigger surprise and impact from the final chapters of the book. But it’s all good because I did not spoil everything with this knowledge. But maybe you do not want to spoil it, so that’s why I am beginning the book review with this little warning.

“Paper towns” is yet another book written by famous youtuber and author John Green. By now you have probably heard about “The fault in our stars”, a book that has made it to the big screen with much anticipated success. Just as the book “The fault in our stars”, “Paper towns” is also a young adult novel, described as a coming of age story, which was also adapted for the big screen with the release date on July 31st 2015 (Romania). John Green truly has a gift because he is able to write so well and in an authentic way from a teenager’s/young person’s perspective, this being a big variable to his success I think.

The main character in “Paper towns” is Quentin “Q” Jacobsen. When he was a kid he met Margo Roth Spiegelman and was forever enchanted by this amazing human, as he imagined her to be also throughout their high school years, although they hadn’t been much in contact. There were always good stories to be heard about Margo, about great adventures she’d been on, and how she disappeared from home at times leaving small clues behind.

One night Margo was set yet again for a closely planned and complex mission for which he chose Q as her companion in mischief, all explained by her like this:

Tonight, darling, we are going to right a lot of wrongs. And we are going to wrong some rights. The first shall be last; the last shall be first; the meek shall do some earth-inheriting. But before we can radically reshape the world, we need to shop.”

And so a part vendetta-part rewarding night began to unfold. But the next morning, news of a new Margo disappearance disrupts Q’s day. Compared to her other escapes, this one is different in the sense that no obvious clues are left behind. But Q believes that that Margo surely left something behind indicating to her whereabouts and soon enough clues begin showing up. That is how Q’s own adventure begins in trying to put all the pieces together and wanting to find Margo, at times being afraid that she might have done harm to herself. There are songs, singers, poems and a Wikipedia-like website named Omnictionary and also maps and a very long road trip between friends that are involved in the search for Margo.

Besides the coming of age theme of the book, there is also a very interesting one about identity and perception of people. John Green puts it like this:

“Isn’t it also that on some fundamental level we find it difficult to understand that other people are human beings in the same way that we are? We idealize them as gods or dismiss them as animals […] Just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are […] People are different when you can smell them and see them up close.”

This is essential in the relationship between Q and Margo especially, but not limited. Lots of characters in the book have different perceptions of who Margo is, but only at the end of the story you can sort of figure her out as a character, because the image of her is developing throughout the story. So Q’s process of finding her, after she disappeared, is also a process of finding who she really is. I am keeping details about this from you on purpose. You’ll have to read the book to find out the specifics.

All in all, I really recommend this book because, like from other John Green books, I learned about new things and gained perspective on different problems. Also, there is good humor to lighten up your mood and intellectual and authentic talks to make your mind wonder. Another thing that I noticed and began to appreciate about John Green’s stories, this being the third book of his that I read, is that you do not get the satisfaction of a cliché happy ending, but rather a different satisfaction of a story with a realistic and very right end put to a tough journey and much needed evolution for the characters through which you learned a lot about them, but also, probably, a lot about yourself.

 

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Book recommendation: The fault in our stars

 

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“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

You would think that a serious disease has a very high potential of ruining your life in all its aspects, crushing dreams, ending your social life and making you always wonder one of the most haunting questions “why me?”.

But Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are here to prove us wrong. These two will make you smile, then make you cry, then smile again and all the way will teach you lessons like: even if you’re in a tough fight with a disease like cancer, there is always time for dreams, love and making the most out of the time you’re left with.

Hazel is on treatment for thyroid cancer with mets in her lungs which reduced her lungs’ capacity to function, thus forcing her to wear a cannula 24/7 so that she won’t have serious problems breathing. Augustus is in remission from osteosarcoma (bone cancer) but still attends support group to accompany his good friends Isaac who also has cancer. There is where Augustus and Hazel meet for the first time and also when they become each other’s support.

“The fault in our stars” is John Green’s 4th novel and was published January 2012. Even though I regularly watch a few youtubers, I did not come over John & Hank’s channel “the vlog brothers”. Rest assured, when I found out, I subscribed immediately. There you can find some “inside” information about the book and the movie that will come out June 6 th in the US and hopefully around that time also in Romania.

Ok, so before you’ll say that this story is very much like “A walk to remember”, which I thought so myself at first after seeing the trailer for the movie, once you get intro the first pages of the book you’ll convince yourself that it’s pretty different. Not only regarding the story (about which I’ll say no more. GO READ THE BOOK) but also regarding the writing style. It feels a lot more realistic and as close as possible to the real experience of someone with cancer. Moreover, it is very witty and funny. Also, yes, there is a love story happening between two teenagers but it feels very authentic without being to cheesy although Augustus is quite the charmer. I mean, who can resist a line like this:

Hazel: “Why are you looking at me?”

Augustus: “Because you’re beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence.”

Being a bit of a nerd myself, I liked that the characters bonded over literature and talks about oblivion, death and how “the world is not a wish granting factory”. There were numerous times when Hazel and Augustus debated over a specific book that she described as being: “as close a thing I had to a Bible”.

Also I have to say that I really appreciated this book. There is something about this kind of stories and I don’t mean just the love part, but mostly the part about pain & suffering. Most of us (I want to refrain from generalization and not say everyone because I guess there are people in this world who evolved to such a state that they don’t fear anything anymore) have our specific fears about things we don’t want to happen to us in life or that we already experienced and maybe want to forget.

Reading about other people’s fears, even fictional, has the potential to touch us in a way that few things can. Whether we identify ourselves with the characters or they just remind us about our own concerns, it tends to strike a cord. Also makes us think about those fears and concerns and about “what if” we tried to confront them altogether. We don’t have to do it alone if we don’t want to.

Besides teaching us a lesson, this book also gives hope and shows you how even from the saddest situation brighter moments can arise. I also liked that it actually gives a little more credit to teens, shows that they can also be smart and grounded and can take pleasure in intellectual activities not only in parties and twerking.

I really recommend you read this book because even if it sounds like teen literature or young-adult type of book, there is something older adults can enjoy and appreciate because it’s an honest and touching story about love, pain and how it is possible to live “a forever within the numbered days”. Because let’s be honest: we all have our days numbered. Cancer patients just happen to approximately know their number, while we, others, don’t.

 

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