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“Turtles All The Way Down” Book Review

 

Hello Readers,

I have met my new favorite book.

It’s crazy to say that since I have read hundreds, how could just one be my favorite? That’s what I thought until last night at 4am when I finished this one.

It’s Phenomenal.

John Green- Phenomenal.

It’s a story of a teenage girl, going through normal teenage girl things, and some not so normal. But what part of life is ever normal? And who is to say your life is more normal than mine, or that the grass may be greener on the other side? It never is, so it seems.

Dead family members, stress anxiety, irregular friendships, wondering what life really means- but mostly an adventure. The 2-dimensional view of this book is a few friends get together to find a missing person in order to receive the $100,000 reward. Of course, there is more to it than that, and lives become at stake for the teens who just want their father back.

From the first page of the novel:

“But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.”

“Of course, you pretend to be the author. You have to. […] You think you’re the painter, but you’re the canvas.”

Already John Green has you hooked with his reversed personification. What’s more in this book is the close-up view of millennials.

I read somewhere recently where someone said, “The students of the present generation are the first to not take their cultural identity from books.” This book was clearly written for this generation of young adults, and basically is the most relate-able book I have ever encountered. As far as what I take my culture from, I don’t know. But John Green seems to get it.

Aza, the main character, suffers from anxiety, to say the least. Constantly feeling like she is trapped in her own body that will inevitably kill her one day, her mind spirals out of control with the notion that she something is hurting her that she can’t control, and she won’t ever know when the bacteria is killing her because her mind will be taken over by then, by the germ.

Aza says eventually, “Rather it hurts is kind of irrelevant.” Also, “True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.”

As I said, this is the part that is not so normal about her teenage life, but obviously, a frequent problem young adults deal with every day. Also, something that isn’t mentioned much, especially in a fiction novel such as this one. Thank you, once again, John Green.

The novel is quite humorous. I found myself laughing in many instances, especially at the narrator’s best friend Daisy. She is strong and a light to be around. Hilarious, and afraid of nothing. A little self-centered, but caring. A great counter-part for Aza, and a real reflection of a millennial.

In chapter 6, she receives a dick-pic as fan mail for her Star Wars fan-fic blog. She states:

“I mean, how am I supposed to react to a semi-erect penis as fan mail? Am I supposed to feel intrigued?”

Aza replies:

“He probably thinks it will end in marriage. You’ll meet IRL and fall in love and someday tell your kids that it all started with a picture of a disembodied penis.”

This is so 2018 because we all know dick pics hardly ever go over very well, especially as an introduction, and is always fun to talk about with your girlfriends at an Applebee’s with a coupon in hand. It would even be more cliche if we found out the perpetrator had taken the pic with a flip phone (haha).

Daisy also compares her new boyfriend’s looks to that of a “giant baby”. And later decides she doesn’t want a relationship with him, as they are difficult, but to instead be “friends with benefits”. Of course, a total 2018 reference as we live in the world of Tinder and such high divorce rates, it seems silly to even be in a traditional relationship anymore. Or so it seems.

When Davis comes in the picture, life hardly changes much for Aza, which we hoped it would. But again, does that happen in real life? Hardly is it ever convenient. Davis is the oldest son of our missing person. His father has become missing to escape a fraud and bribery investigation, leaving his two sons behind with the estate and it’s workers to take care of them. Aza and Davis knew each other as children, and Daisy convinces Aza to reach out to him in order to find the whereabouts of his father to collect the reward. At this point, I found myself thinking this was going to be a book of revelation and closure for the characters, as they may find a valuable lesson that is unclear at this point of time, but I was wrong.

In chapter 7, I made a note saying I thought this might end up being an interesting crime novel. At this point, the book is giving a lot of insight to the trouble Davis’s father is facing, and the peer-investigation between Daisy and Aza is intriguing. After chapter 19 I wrote in the margin, “For a while, I thought this was an adventure novel, not anymore.”

The novel moves forward with the relationship between Aza and Davis, and Aza and herself. She constantly is questioning the meaning of “me”, with her therapist and her peers, but mostly with Davis. Both Aza and Davis have a dead parent, and both constantly feel misunderstood by their remaining parents. It seems as though neither of them has a close relationship with anyone, even Aza and Daisy, who are best friends, seem to not really know much about each other, and the secrets they tell are on the surface.

Once it seems that Davis and Aza are dating (use the word dating loosely), they connect on a level that only the two of them can understand and seems like a once-in-a-lifetime event for the beloved characters. I understood in chapter 13 that John Green has his unstable characters fall in love to prove their presence. That they are relevant, even when they don’t think so.

In reference to Davis, John Green inserts many quotes from inspirational authors in this novel, along with some online-journaling of Davis’s. I thought about how creative this is, to write a story inside of a story, a story that is not the author’s, but also it is. John Green is able to write in words and sentences that flow so well that it seems like it comes easily to him. I couldn’t help but be envious at this point.

Daisy’s motive of the investigation was to earn the money so she could quit he minimum-wage job and live a prosperous life as a high school student. To Aza, although she was doing it for Daisy, she wanted to help Davis and Noah more, and later learned that that was more important than a large sum of money. Our characters to tie up their loose ends by the end of the book, and I am glad for that, but also wanted to read so much more.

Our characters to tie up their loose ends by the end of the book, and I am glad for that, but also wanted to read so much more. On page 260 I thought to myself that I know there are only 20 pages left but so much more than I want to know that it would definitely need to take up more than 20 pages. Heartbreaking and unsettling as it seems, it was incredible. John Green is a master of breaking my heart and putting it back together with scotch tape, which somehow I am okay with, although it is not the same as I felt before, I am okay with it. Bravo.

Read it.

 

 

 

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Abby, a Mistress

I found her.

A person could see her unmistakable long, dark hair from across the grocery store. That’s where I saw her, at least.

My hair- short and blonde. He told me he liked my hair shorter, and when I cut it he told me I had never looked better. That I was even more beautiful that day then I was the day he married me.
There was never a time like the world we lived in when we were newly-weds. Being 7 years ago doesn’t seem like that long ago.
I never dreamed of leaving him, and I definitely never thought it would come to this.
A mistress.
Late nights at work, going to the bar with his friends- he still always had time for me. We had been on many dates as a married couple, several vacations, and countless late nights of talking and swooning. He kissed me goodbye every morning before he went to work, told me he loved me every day, and always made a point to make me feel beautiful and like I am the luckiest girl in the world.
But here I am. In the grocery store that I have been coming to since we moved here 7 years ago. Buying everything that fills our house with holiday aromas and dinner every night. This is where I buy his favorite coffee, no other store in town carries it. I have gone out of my way to come here for him, and today I found her here.
She is beautiful, clearly. He really did pick a good one. And she looks nothing like me, even better for him I’m sure.
I bet she never complains about his dirty clothes laying on the floor, or about how he walks through every room in the house while he’s on the phone, constantly picking things up and moving them around without even realizing it.
I’m sure she is an amazing lover, she probably does more than I ever would for him. “Tough Luck”, I always tell him. She probably has a closet full of lingerie that she wears for my husband, some that he might have paid for, with the money he makes for “our family”, as he calls it.
Should I have done better? Should I have catered to his every want and need and never had an argument? Wear high-heels when I do the dishes? Make myself be his whore every night after his long day at work? I could have ironed all his clothes, picked up all his messes, cleaned for 4 hours every day, wrote him loves stories and day-dreamed about him all day. Did I not do enough, just by loving him and being his home to come to every day?
Oh, please.
I am a human being, just like him. He should have known better, and he should have remembered the love we had for each other every single day.
Not fucking women like her.
I found out about her by accident.
Cleaning the house, no doubt, while he was at work not thinking about me, or her either, I’m sure.
She wrote him a note and he left it in his shorts from 2 weekends ago, when he told me he went to see his old friend from high school that just moved 2 towns away from us. “Sounds fun!” I said. And no, it was not stupid of me to not think he really meant he would be with someone else.
The note said “Think of me tonight while you are with your wife because I will be thinking of you when he comes home. -Abby”. What an amateur, I thought. Did she really think he did his own laundry or cared enough to clean out his pockets at the end of the day? Or did she think he would fold it up and keep it like a trophy of their undefined love? Don’t make me laugh.
I told you, she is nothing like me. I would never dream of sleeping with another man. Even now I can’t imagine, because I remember our wedding and how the basis of our marriage and our love was made that night. I knew then there would never be another man that I could look at the same way as I do him, and I knew that I would never feel the same way about love or how it feels because that night it was truly the best night of my life, where love was redefined.
It was better for him that she doesn’t look like me, but not because she is better or more beautiful, but because it would only make him feel guilty. And honestly, what is the point on cheating on your wife with someone that looks like her?
Abby, however, has no idea what any of that means. I feel sorry for her, truly. Does she think she can find that in my husband since she can’t find it on her own? Please. She has to find a way to stop being so pathetic, and she needs to find that without my husband.
I see her in aisle 9 as I walk by. I stop and stare for a minute, and remember that she is not better than me. Most women might feel that she is, of course, because my husband picked her over me. But actually, he didn’t.

He found her, at a bar I’m sure, and it was fun for one night. And then he thought maybe this was the life he wanted, being her play toy on nights they can both ditch their spouses and be together. Does that sound like a relationship to you, Abby? Pathetic. It sounds pathetic to me.
He didn’t find me at a bar on a drunken night like he did you. We met at a luncheon for a company we both were applying for 8 years ago. We talked all night and he took me on dates for several weeks before we slept together, which I’m sure wasn’t the case with you.
Perhaps it has been fun, running around with a woman who looks like she hit puberty about 5 years ago. Her body is rockin’, I’m sure, and she makes him feel young again, I bet. She looks nothing like me, as I said. What I mean by that is I look better. Funny, isn’t it? He still makes love me right after making love to you. Is that petty sex, you think? Doubtful. The sex with you is fun and meaningless, but my body is where his home is, and its the only place he has ever made real love to a woman.
So, Abby, have fun, you pretty little thing. I could honestly not care less. Anything he’s ever told you about his feelings for you, or feelings he may have for me, they are all a lie. An adult would know that, so surely you could use that explanation.
We’ll fight about it later, I’m sure, at my own timing and with my full control. No, it’s not over. However, I may decide that it should be, later on my own terms.
I’ll get what I want, out of both of you, when the time comes. And I promise you this, I won’t be the one feeling stupid when it’s all over.

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The 7 Ways to Survive College

Dear Fellow College Students,
We all have struggles. Trust me, figuring out how to get to class on time will not be your only problem. You made it through high school, great. We all thought that was never going to end, but here you are. You made it. The rest of your life has begun and this is just the beginning. Choosing your career is your first milestone for your future, that is why the amount of success you have these next four years is very important. You have so much to learn and so much to live for, believe me, you are still so young, even if you feel so grown up. I am here to tell you how to survive this part of your life, because it is going to be tough, so pay attention.

1) Save Money

The 7 ways to survive college are all equally as important, so there is no particular ranking to this list I am giving you. You have to save money. One weekend you will go out with your friends and spend nearly all the money your parents gave you. Trust me, that dollar amount is never enough. You have no idea how to budget. If they gave you $1,000 a week you still would find a way to spend it. Don’t. You know nothing about money. Think of it like this, the less money you have, the less food you will eat, and a lot of the time you will be starving. Also, this advice will help you even after you graduate. So save your money. Listen to your mom when she says that to you, because she does know what she’s talking about. Speaking of your mother, call her. She misses you about 10 times more than you miss her.

2) Read Everyday

Text books are your best friends these next four (or more) years. There are classes that are extremely easy- be thankful for these. That “A” you see on your transcript at the end of the semester may be the last one you ever see. Now, that is not to say it is impossible to get an “A” in a hard class. You can get an “A”, you really can, but it is going to take a lot of work. Reading your text book is the simplest way to study. Really, you learn a lot just for reading it. There will probably come a time when you think you can skate by doing the bare minimum for a class, trust me, reading your text book IS the bare minimum. So do that, at least. Walk in to every class saying “I need an “A””, and your rest text book because it definitely won’t be a waste of time. Binge-watching 3 seasons on Netflix however is a total waste of time.

3) Go to Study Groups

I know this is tough. It will require you to sacrifice some of you spare time and maybe some sleep, but this is important. Studying as a group helps you see other ways of understanding the same issue at hand. What you’re confused about may be the same thing that others are confused about, and maybe you both don’t see how to ask for help, but when a group of confused students get together with their notes and textbooks, you guys will collectively find the answer and see many different ways to understand it. You need that. College will require you to think in ways that you aren’t used to. You spent very little time in high school using critical thinking tools, and that has left you under-prepared for college. This is a time for learning and you are not alone. Every person in your class is in the same boat as you, even when that boat is sinking. Working together is another simple way to get through this just like reading your textbook. There will be several times that you have to study way harder and do a lot more work than just read your textbook and go to study groups, help yourself now by taking advantage of these two simple ways to learn.

4) Make Lists

It’s easy to forget important things that you need to get done on any given day. It’s even easier to forget to do the important things that you absolutely don’t want to do. Sure, you want to succeed. You want to have a successful future. You want to make straight “A’s” and have a 4.0 GPA. But none of us actually want to do what it takes to get it done-work. Your first year is going to be all boring classes, classes that will mean basically nothing to you. This is tough, so you need to get yourself in a routine that will help you get all of those crappy assignments done. Make lists that show you what needs to be done at any given day of the week. Consult you syllabi, yes, your professors gave you these, and yes, they are important. Schedule the due dates and schedule times to study before hand. You may think you can get everything done in one night, but you can’t, and if you do this you will get behind, and your grades will suffer. Schedule time to relax also because this is tough work, and you’re doing it all on your own, no one can do this for you.

5) Be Selfish

This is one of the most important times in your life. You are going to learn so much about yourself and about life in your college career, so you need to make sure it’s not stripped from you.Keep going. Take out another student loan, take that class over again that you got an “F” in, and definitely don’t let love get in the way of your college degree. When you walk that stage and shake the Dean’s hand, you have achieved it. No body can take that from you, ever. Wait to get married until after that day happens. If your love is true, it can wait, and it will stronger after you have finished. Take the time to do this for yourself and forget about everyone else. Life is full of reasons not to do something this important. Trash those reasons. This is your time to draw-out your future, and it’s just the beginning. Embrace it and keep going. Also, stay in school as long as you possibly can. After that first degree, after you have achieved the ultimate goal, if you get the chance to keep going, definitely go. Go until you physically can’t anymore, until you run out of money, until you have more college hours than there are hours in a month. Education is a gift, receive it util it’s done giving.

6) Make Time for Yourself

This may seem like it falls under the last tip, but this is different. What I mean is, when you’re being selfish for your degree, remember that you’re doing it for you. You are on your own side. It is easy to forget that and it is easy to think you are your own worst enemy. Stop thinking that. Don’t work yourself to death, there are ways of getting what you want without sacrificing everything near and dear to you. Remember what I said earlier, schedule time to relax along with scheduling all the work you have to get done. Also, don’t neglect your health. Go to the gym, there is always time for that. Don’t spend all spring break studying, even if one of your Professors assigns something for you to do. Hang out with your friends, go home to visit your family, take a road trip, you need it. Don’t lose sight of your hobbies either. Sometimes your hobbies are related to your career choice, and they always are related to who you are as person and a professional, and that is absolutely important. Keep going with everything you do in your life because everything is important.

7) Have Fun

It may seem like over-kill by now, but this is your life we are talking about here. Everything you do, everyday adds up to who you are. The good and the bad, the successes and the failures, the fun time and the boring times. Surviving and succeeding in college requires you to give it your all, just like everything in life does. Remember that you are here for a reason, that you have a deep connection with why you are here. Maybe you have a love for animals and a love for helping them, so you are going to school to be a vet. You are going to wake up every morning one day and save many lives of animals, and you are going to have a blast doing it. If you are not sure if that is going to be fun then you need to rethink you major. You have a passion, everyone does. Embrace it, live it and chase it.

Go to school and be that person you dream of being. Don’t stop for anything, and study hard. Work for everything you get and make sure you hold on to it as long as possible. It is absolutely worth your time, so stay as long as possible. Relax because you can do this. Make time for your friends and family, and save every penny you can. This is the advice I can give you to survive this time in your life. Be positive everyday, because I know you can do this, I am rooting for you!

 

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Read Like a Writer

I recently was asked what it means to read like a writer. This question enticed me to do some digging. Being a book-blogger, how I read a book and how I choose to write about it all depends on how the book speaks to its readers and how I can interpret that into a text for my readers.

When I read for leisure, even as a fellow writer, I drive into the story and see where it takes me. I spend little time dwelling on the structure of the text and more on the entertainment it provides me. The books I enjoy are ones that leave me turning pages because of character and plot development, and the sensibility the words bring to the story.

Reading like a writer requires the attention to the technique of the writing and if the message of the story is effective or not. I sometimes wonder if the technique and structure the writer has used would be the same way I would choose to tell my story. I think about a specific instance in the story and study it. I try to experience the story most a reader but as a writer by applying my story with the same technique and ask myself if it would lead my reader tot he most valuable outcome of the text I am forming.

I spend a lot of time looking for an error in the text when I read like a writer. To me reading what doesn’t work in a text helps to remove error in other texts. If I see something in a story that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t lead to a clear answer, I make a short list in my mind as a reference in my own writing.

Reading like a writer helps me when I write my story when I think about what the reader is going to receive from my story. Based on what I receive from a story I read helps me discover with my own story that my reader may receive something entirely different.

As a college graduate with a BA in English Literature, I know that reading like a reader, reading like a writer and reading like a scholar are three different types of reading. Analyzing a text in a literature classroom or as a stand-alone scholar is different than how a writer would read the same text. A scholar will spend a lot of the time examining the text next to the other texts of it’s time, history books and critic pieces to entirely examine the work and make a scholarly interpretation of it.

Writing my own book requires as much help and as much reading-experience I can possibly get. I could read 100 books a month and still not have learned everything there is to know how to write a book that is effective, clear and a pleasure to read.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Hello Friends!

2018 is going to be my year!

How many people have you heard say that already?

Well, for me, it’s true.

2017 brought me amazing insight into my career as a writer. I have had this blog up and running since 2013 when I took a digital media class my sophomore year of college. But it really wasn’t until the last half of 2017 that I learned writing this blog really can mean something special for me, that writing it could be the career I always wanted but didn’t know how to achieve.

Since I was a sophomore in high school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. For about 6 years I was determined I was going to be a journalist, where I would chase a story, find a great lead, and stay up late to meet deadlines to make the next day’s publication. That life sounded so exciting to me until I took a creative writing course in college.

I think it was actually called “Creative Writing 101”, as serious and fulfilling as that sounds, it really effected my career and writing path.

Fast forward 3 years, and I had written virtually nothing.

At this point, I was totally confused. I changed my major from Journalism to English Literature, with still no idea what I was going to do with that degree.

Finally, year 5 of college with 1 semester left to graduate, I decided I wanted to write, again, that I would go to Graduate school and earn a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and English. Even then, still, I had written basically nothing.

The summer after graduation (summer 2017) was a real learning experience. I started to wonder into freelance writing, where I spent several hours online studying how to make money writing. I dove into website building, email copywriting, book reviews and freelance journal writing. Through this, I have found out that I want to all of it.

Reading has been one of my favorite hobbies ever since I was about 10 years old. All those years I mentioned earlier when I had barely written anything, well, I certainly did a lot of reading.

When ever people asked me what I wanted to do with my major, if I wanted to be a teacher is what they usually asked. When I told them I wasn’t sure, which is still pretty much what I say to people today, they ask “Well why are you studying that?”, and I would say “Well, I know that I really love to read.” Which, to some people that made sense, but to others they may have said something like “Well you can’t make money by reading books,” and maybe they laughed at the thought.

Well, the joke is on them, because I certainly do enjoy this job. It’s funny how that worked out.

Blog writing, advertising my novel as I continue to write it, becoming personal with my readers as we all try to reach similar goals is just perfect. I have never felt more sure about doing anything than I do about writing these posts and learning that the sky is the limit here at readforthesouls.com

Furthermore, I say that 2018 is going to be my year because this is going to be the year I find my place in the writing community.

I’m going to finish my first draft of my first novel,

blog to my readers continuously, and

read 10 million books so I can write fantastic book reviews (and enjoy every second of it).

 

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My Blogging Experience (so far)

With the semester approaching it’s end, my college journalism class  asked it’s students to write a post that summarizes our experiences of becoming  bloggers. First, I’d like to say that I have been wanting to do this since I was a sophomore in high school but didn’t know how I would start. I was stoked to hear at the beginning of the semester that this class required a blog. Journalism and writing is my passion, by far, and I can’t tell you how much fun I have had with this project.

I am sure there is going to be a few students in that class that won’t update their blog ever again, but not me. I am so excited to keep this going. I have been trying to write one post a week ever since the semester started, even though I should be writing everyday, and I have definitely enjoyed the hour or so I got every week to just write.

Something that I think really helped  me in the professional world is Twitter. This class also had us make a Twitter account for the purpose of creating a personal brand and it definitely worked for me. I think this is where a lot of my readers have read my blog posts. I love participating in all the hashtags some accounts had started for books and writers, my blog tweets are also how I have gained a lot of my Twitter followers.

One project this class had us do that I really enjoyed was the post we wrote on thought leaders  that pertained to our blog topic; were we tweeted out to them for the sake of advice or helpful information. It was really cool seeing feedback from people you never would have thought knew you existed.

I would like to improve my information seeking and writing skills in general in the continuation of this blog. I feel like a lot of the time I was at a loss for words or didn’t know what sort of information I should be telling my audience, but I think this is something every writer/journalist/author thinks of themselves no matter how brilliant they are, and this is something that we will never overcome. Also, I think a better use of visual media will improve my storytelling for the career  I am pursuing.

I think this experience has only got me started on my career path and everything that I experience in the writing world will be a continuation off of this class and this blog. I think Twitter is always going to be an amazing tool that I will use in the professional world and also will for others like myself. I couldn’t have had more fun with this project, and I hope that it has in fact only started my career.
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