Writing My Way Out Of The Labyrinth

Author John Green
Publisher Name, Year: Speak (an imprint of Penguin Group), 2005

Miles Halter (a.k.a Pudge) is a new comer to Culver Creek boarding school eagerly searching for a new identity and wanting to fit in. First impressions are exceptionally important to the future success of his social life this year. His new roommate Colonel graciously takes him under his wing only if he promises that he’s not one of the rich Weekend Warriors. The Colonel then introduces Pudge to some of his good friends Alaska, Takumi, and Lara. To them, being teenagers meant spending your days having to worry about relationships, playing video games, and getting good grades. This five-some can usually be found drinking Strawberry Hill wine on the outskirts of campus in the woods at the smoke hole, being careful not to attract the attention of the Eagle and also successfully pulling pranks on the Weekend Warriors. Until one night when the drinking gets out of hand and someone ends up getting hurt. As these unlikely friends struggle through the semester, they discover what defines friendship and trust.

"To Be Continued...."

After the loss of a close friend, this four-some finish up the semester by investigating the causes and preventions of a death. Secrets, a love triangle, and infatuation take over the friends and test their loyalty to one another. Alaska who is flirty, moody, friendly, and yet distant is the center of Pudge’s world and he longs to be with her, but after a devastating tragedy it leaves Pudge wondering how and why things happen. Pudge disregards most of his school work and spends most of his time looking for a way out of the labyrinth. Will this group of friends ever find answers to the questions that consume their lives?

Recommendations for Teachers
John Green wrote this novel specifically for high school students to help them understand loss and the guilt that can be felt through the death of a loved one. It is Green's desire for English teachers to teach uncensored novels to their high school students. While the inclusion of alcohol abuse, profanity, and sex may make it uncomfortable to teach this novel it was truly written to be taught in the classroom. There are many detailed discussion questions listed in the back of the novel that would help students to relate the story to their own lives. "Looking for Alaska" is not only a novel that students will learn from, it will also be enjoyable as students overcome the same battles in their own lives.

About John Green

John Green grew up in Florida and later moved to Alabama to attend boarding school. This location helped to develop the setting of Culver Creek in "Looking for Alaska". After graduating from college, Green spent six months working in a children's hospital. The experiences there inspired the tragedy and loss that he wrote about in "Looking for Alaska". This novel has been nominated for many young adult literature awards and it is currently being adapted into a screenplay by Paramount who bought the movie rights to the novel. "Looking for Alaska" has become so popular that it was translated into thirteen different languages. John Green currently lives in Indiana with his wife, while frequently travelling to Chicago and New York for work.

Multimedia (Video or Audio)
John Green defends his novel "Looking For Alaska" after parents complain that their students are reading the novel in their high school classroom. He responds to being called a "pornographer" by these parents.

Additional Resources:
  • Dealing with Tragedy and Loss - An article that helps parents help their children cope with loss of a loved one.
  • John Green's Official Website -Information about John Green and his controversial novels.
  • http://www.afsp.org/ - The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention raises money to educate students and adults about suicide and different ways that it can be prevented.
  • Famous Last Words -"The Ultimate Collection of Famous Last Words" by Laura Ward. If Pudge's interest in famous last words excites you then read this text on Google Books to learn more.
  • Articles About the Controvery - Read the article and the comeback that started the controvery over teaching "Looking for Alaska" in schools.
  • Coping with Loss - A guide about loss and how to deal with the loss of a loved one.
  • Alcohol Abuse - An article about alcohol abuse in teens and how destructive it can be.
  • Residential Treatment Centers - Search for treatment centers for psychological disorders in your area.

  • --Lora Winegar, Jennifer VanBeck, Julie Shoults.