Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
I wanted to do something really special for this review as this was a special book for me. So, I decided to write this review in the form a thank-you letter to John Green. I hope you all enjoy!
Dear John Green,
Let me begin by introducing myself! 🙂 My name is Christina and I have been a longtime fan of both your books, your VlogBrothers YouTube channel and your “Dear Hank & John” podcast. I have always appreciated your candor and your willingness to be vulnerable with your own mental health journey.
I, myself, have been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD and…Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In my work with my previous therapist, my OCD really is the foundation of my mental health struggles, as this was something that I could trace back to my childhood. I’ve always been an anxious individual and it wasn’t until I started working with a therapist that I realized my anxiety really stems from my obsessive thought spirals. Thankfully, I have gotten to a point where I have graduated from therapy and have been living my life using the coping skills that I learned in therapy.
When I heard that this book was coming out…I can’t begin to tell you, I was filled with both anxiety and excitement. Anxiety, because (to be quite honest), I was nervous about how the character with OCD was going to be portrayed in this book. Excitement, because I hardly ever see OCD represented accurately or respectfully in books.
Now…I’ve read the book and you’re probably where I fall on the scale of anxiety to excitement. Honestly, I don’t think I actually fell anywhere on the scale. This book wrecked me emotionally. I couldn’t even properly cry because the amount of emotions I was experiencing was quite overwhelming. In the beginning of the book, when we were getting acquainted with Aza’s thought spirals and how her OCD manifested, I had to keep putting the book down because it just hit me square in my heart. It felt like someone transplanted my own thought spirals and put them in book form, and I had a really hard time reading through it – which to me, showed how accurate the thought spirals felt to me. This tends to be the part of OCD that is overlooked in books – the “O”, the “obsessive” thoughts. It’s paralyzing. It’s invalidating. It’s hurtful. And it really doesn’t feel like my thoughts.
The relationship between Aza and Daisy also really hit too close to home. Particularly when we start to see how Aza’s OCD impacts Daisy…this has always been my own lifelong fear. I know I’ve lost friendships due to my mental health disabilities. And this is, quite frankly, the hardest part of carrying my mental health disabilities. It is the constant fear that I am a burden to those that I deeply care about around me. In the deepest parts of my OCD and anxiety, I know that I cannot think of my impact on others because I am already so deep in my own thought spiral well. It feels so isolating. It literally makes me feel crazy.
The last thing that I would like to say…is thank you. Thank you, John Green. Thank you for writing this book that is gritty, painful, ugly and hard. Thank you for not shying away from how ugly and hard mental health disabilities can be. But, thank you for also showing the hope that exists at the end of the dark tunnel of mental health disabilities. More and more books targeted to a younger audience need to read like this one. They need to be honest and they need to provide hope, because hope always exists. Even when we can’t see it ourselves.
So, thank you, John Green. I cannot express in words how thankful I am for this book and how much this book has impacted my soul.