‘Paper Towns’ by John Green

Holy white wall of cow, I loved Paper Towns! It’s a terrific book, full of growing up and realising stuff about oneself. I guess it is kind of similar to Looking for Alaska but not as tragic. Damn it, last night, after I finished reading the book, I was full of thoughts and knew what I wanted to say about this great book and now my mind is blank. Fantastic!

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In typical YA fashion, this story is about a boy, Q, who adores a girl, Margo Roth Spiegelman (her name is always spoken in full because she is made of awesome). I really can’t blame Q for liking Margo because she is awesome and I would have been head over heels for her as well. The story is also a mystery because one day Margo decides to leave. She had done this before and left clues for her parents to find her and she did so this time as well, and Q – together with his friends – tries to decipher the clues and find Margo.

During the process of putting the clues together, Q learns a lot more about himself than he anticipated. He learns more about life, people in general and his friends in particular as he tries to understand who Margo is. This is the very interesting part in which he learns that he’s not just one thing. He is not just one metaphor, he can choose which one to live by or which ones. People are more than what we think they are, Q and his friends all have different pictures of who Margo is, as does Margo of herself. Throughout the book it becomes clear that neither Margo nor Q do exactly know who she is and I can relate very much to that concept. In a crowd of acquaintances I am usually the funny, slightly shy person. With my close friends I am mostly me but still not always completely myself. Which version of ourselves we are depends on who we are with at the time, I guess.

When you look at someone, you see what you want to see in them at first, your own expectations are mirrored by the person you’re trying to figure out and so we never get the real picture, only a mirrored image. This is made clear be the choice of Margo’s last name, Spiegelman. Spiegel is the german word for mirror. I could go on and on about this and probably still not make sense of what I am trying to say. Just read Paper Towns if you want to understand it, you won’t regret it. Instead I will share some passages from the book with you:

(1) “I needed to discover what Margo was like when she wasn’t being Margo.”

(2) ” ‘The longer I do my job’, he said, ‘the more I realize that humans lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.’ ”

(3) “And as paralyzing and upsetting as all the never agains were, the final leaving felt perfect. Pure. The most distilled possible form of liberation. Everything that mattered except  one lousy picture was in he trash, but it felt so great. I started jogging, wanting to put even more distance between myself and school. It is so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

(4) “What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person.”

(5) “If you choose the strings, then you’re imagining a world in which you become irreparably broken. If you choose the grass, you’re saying that we are all infinitely connected, that we can use these root systems not only to understand one another but to become one another. The metaphors have implications.”

(6) “It is by saying these things that keep us from falling apart. And maybe by imagining these futures we can make them real, and maybe not, but either way we must imagine them.”

This story was funny at times, exciting at other moments and so much more than I expected in general. It makes you think and I like that because the book is one giant image in a way. So lovely. And it involves a road trip at the end so you know it’s awesome, because road trips are. As they are also usually used as a means of helping characters do their soul searching.

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