Green, John. Looking for Alaska. New York: Dutton Books, 2005. Print.
I am so thankful I didn't choose to teach this novel to my summer classes. It is a good read, but I don't think I'm ready to face the controversial topics with students as a required reading assignment.
The book starts with a countdown to "before" and the reader doesn't learn what the event is until page 139. After this event, the chapters are divided by so many days "after."
Miles is a loner. He doesn't have friends, he's not athletic, but he does have a special talent: he memorizes famous people's last words.
The Colonel (Chip) is Miles' roommate. The Colonel hates rich kids and tries to prank as many of them as possible just to prove his (perceived) superiority over them.
Alaska (who named herself at the age of 7 because "it was big, just like I wanted to be" is the campus free spirit. She is an avid reader who claims not to have a home (Green 53).
Takumi rounds out the friend quartet. He is the "Asian kid" that is not a computer genius (Green 103) but defines himself as a rapper.
Lara is the Romanian love interest to Miles.
These five characters go to school at Culver Creek, where all the usual high school drama surrounds them. Except, they have more drama!
Green explores many of the questions and issues that face teenagers. I think he does a great job capturing the reality of teens' lives and how one decision can absolutely change a person.