Looking for Alaska --John Green

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Miles Halter, also known later as “Pudge,” is itching to get away from his familiar surroundings. With a tedious and predictable “public-school-kid” Florida lifestyle, he is ready for more of an adventure, or ready to no longer be a “nothing” in school. With his obsession of famous people’s last words, in the words of Francois Rabelais, “Pudge” is in search for a “Great Perhaps.” Miles decides that going to Culver Creek, where his father attended, seems to suit his needs. After a rather uneventful going away party thrown by his parents, Miles arrives at Culver Creek and encounters an unlikely band of friends in which quickly become his family. “The Colonel,” Pudge’s roommate introduces him to the unwritten rules among the student body and most importantly, Alaska Young. The Colonel and Alaska, who to Pudge, is a Goddess introduce him not only to the normality of being a teenager away at a boarding school, but also show him what its like to really live. More or less, the brotherhood between the Colonel and the obsession and infatuation with Alaska, heighten an emotional rollercoaster of attachment when life presents obstacles. This is not just high school anymore.

Furthermore, In Looking for Alaska, John Greene throws in the nuances of teenage decision-making and the everyday obstacles they are faced with. This book presents a montage of questions to both the high school audience as well as parents. Green introduces s novel of
complete societal conflict- the real deal. From extreme sexual content, alcohol abuse, divorce and death to the power of love, social class distinction in terms of rich and poor, and real life situations, Greene exemplifies that the quality friendship and loyalty seem to be the strongest and most significant through the toughest times. The book is written in a two part series that is detailed with specific intent, leaving the reader with suspense and urgency to in turn, look for the infamous and impactful Alaska Young.

About the Author
John Green was born on August 24,1977 in Indianapolis, Indiana. John writes young adult fiction and realistic fiction stories. John spent a great deal of his childhood in Florida before being shipped off to Alabama to a boarding school, which ended up providing a valuable backdrop for his first novel, Looking For Alaska. This first novel won the Michael L. Printz award for demonstrating excellence in Young Adult Literature and was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize. Some of the experiences that have had a had a major influence on John are his time spent working as a student chaplain at a children's hospital and his time spent living in Chicago where he worked for Booklist Magazine as a literary critic where he reviewed literature of all forms.

Recommendations for Teachers

Looking for Alaska may be more suitable for an eleventh or twelfth grade English class. In addition, due to the language, sexual content, drug and alcohol use, a disclaimer warning may need to be issued to the student and their parent or guardian. High school English students could relate to this book simply because the characters in the book are in high school, therefore, the language and events that occur can easily capture the students.

The book can lead to interesting discussion topics. For example, Miles "Pudge" Halter drive in life is to seek the "Great Perhaps". As a teacher, you could lead a discussion or ask the students to journal about what they think a "Great Perhaps" is and what their own would be. Another discussion topic could be about family. The conversation begin by talking about what and who family are, and how family is represented in Looking for Alaska. The students may relate to the friends in the book in the way they became a family. The book could also be used to begin discussion on searching for adventure. This could be the beginning of asking students what their expectations are for post-high school and what kind of adventures they hope to embark on. Another discussion question to use is asking the students who their favorite character is, why they are their favorite character, and how they relate to them.


John Green and his brother, Hank, maintain a vlog called “Vlogbrothers” in which John frequently discusses his work, including Looking For Alaska. In this first video, posted on Jan 30, 2008, the author discusses the sometimes explicit sexual elements of the novel:

In this next video, posted on August 6, 2010, John Green gives a tour of several locations in Birmingham, AL, some of which directly inspired settings in Looking For Alaska:

Additional Resources

(John Green website) * An interview with the author that gives insight and answers to questions about Looking for Alaska.
(Reading Group questions) *A sight that provides both reading group questions and interviews with John Green.
(Teaching notes for __Looking for Alaska__) *A website that provides teaching notes for the book Looking for Alaska.
(Teaching __Looking__ __for Alaska__) *Here you will find helpful tools and ideas for teaching Looking for Alaska in a secondary classroom.
(teenage drinking) *Statistics and facts about teenage alcohol abuse.
(teenage suicide) *Facts, symptoms, and warning signs of teen suicide.
(Controversy in __Looking for__ __Alaska__) *Website that displays the controversy in teaching Looking for Alaska in high schools.
(Suicide prevention) *The American foundation for preventing suicide website.
(Death of a parent) *Dealing with the loss of a parent.