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HCTU Must Read: Looking For Alaska

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Temple chapter.
In January of 2012, author John Green gave the world a love story that enchanted, broke and reminded us all how it felt to fall in love for the first time. The Fault in Our Stars became an instant classic whose pages were dog-eared, tear stained and beloved as readers followed the journey of Augustus and Hazel. Seven years prior to The Fault in Our Stars, Green wrote another tale that captured reader’s hearts as he shared the adventure of Pudge and Alaska in the award winning Looking for Alaska. 
 
Set in Alabama at the fictitious Culver Creek Preparatory School, Miles Halter begins his quest to understand writer François Rabalais’s last words “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” Miles, whose interests include the last words people have said before they die and reading biographies, feels stuck in his suburban Floridian town and convinces his parents to attend the prep school his father previously attended. Miles hopes to discover just what a Great Perhaps is and experience while at his new school. 
 
While attending Culver Creek, he befriends his roommate Chip Martin, who upon meeting a freshly showered, half naked Miles for the first time, nicknames the skinny kid ‘Pudge’ as a form of irony. Chip, who is referred to as ‘The Coronel’ because he is the mastermind behind some of Culver Creeks most epic pranks, becomes Miles best friend while at Culver Creek. The Colonel goes on to introduce Miles, who subsequently gets called Pudge for the rest of the book as the nickname sticks, to his other friends at Culver Creek, such as Takumi Hikohito; another Culver Creek attendee, gifted MC/hip-hop enthusiast and one of the first people Miles meets. The Colonel, however, introduces Miles to the heroine of Looking for Alaska, the enigmatic Alaska Young.    
 
Miles meets Alaska in her room where she shares the story of getting her boob ‘honked’ over the summer while hanging out with a friend. Her room which covered in books she calls her Life’s Library, Miles is immediately enamored by this beautiful girl. The book goes on to tell to friendship that develops between Alaska and Miles, who despite knowing that Alaska has a boyfriend falls more and more in love with her. As time goes on, Miles learns about Alaska’s moodiness and instability. Despite her rapid emotions, Miles sticks by his friend, especially as Alaska and the Colonel plan an epic prank to get back at the richer kids at Culver Creek, known as Weekday Warriors, who hurt Miles in a traditional prank for new students. However, after a hundred and twenty eight days at Culver Creek, Miles life will forever be changed as tragedy strikes his friend group, forever changing his world view. 
 
Despite Green’s occasional flowery writing, Looking for Alaska is phenomenal book. Despite Pudge’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl view of Alaska, the reader does learn the complexities of Alaska, who at the end of the day is a teenage girl. Like most of us, she suffers internally and externally. Her friends who love her dearly are ill equipped to help Alaska in her more emotional moments, still attempt to help in little ways but ultimately, the lesson of Alaska Young is that sometimes your demons are bigger than you.     
 
Celebrating 10 years in print, Looking for Alaska is a book that teaches us about what it means to be friend. It reminds us of the important things in life that we perhaps take granted on a daily basis. Most importantly, it teaches us forgiveness, whether we are forgiving ourselves, others and the people who we love who need it most. A book anyone can relate to who has suffered a tragedy such as Miles’, John Green’s stunning debut novels tells the story of people who want to be loved and forgiven. 
 
Lindsey is a senior magazine journalism major at Temple University. After she graduates in May she hopes to return to NYC, which she fell in love with this summer during her ASME internship at Real Simple magazine.