from my bookshelf: turtles all the way down by john green


while aza holmes (homlesy) navigates the normal high school woes of first love, friendship, and tensions with her mom, she also handles grieving the loss of her father and coping with severe obsessive compulsive disorder. an old friend, davis, comes back into her life when he is thrown into the limelight after his wealthy father goes missing. aza’s OCD affects every facet of her life, and she openly explains her frustration with wanting to give into the demands of her disorder while functioning as a normal teenager and explaining herself to her friends and loved ones. while geared towards young adults, turtles all the way down is a relatable story for all, as it delves into fundamental topics for people of all ages: love, friendship, mental health, and the tension between one’s personal thoughts and desires versus what other people require of them.


“But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.”

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”

“True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.”

“I was so good at being a kid, and so terrible at being whatever I was now.”

“…like invasive weeds, these thoughts seem to arrive at my biosphere from some faraway land, and then they spread out of control.”

“I was thinking about how part of your self can be in a place while at the same time the most important parts are in a different place, a place that can’t be accessed via your senses.”

“I wanted to tell her that I was getting better, because that was supposed to be the narrative of illness: It was a hurdle you jumped over, or a battle you won. Illness is a story told in the past tense.”

“I think and I think and I think.”

“I was not always stuck inside myself, or inside my selves. I wasn’t only crazy.”

“I find mental disorders to be vastly overrated…being mentally unwell doesn’t make you loftily intelligent any more than having the flu does.”

“You don’t get to be in anything else–in friendship or in anger or in hope. all you can be is in love…the idea of being in a feeling gave language to something I couldn’t describe before.”

“…you can’t let the light catch up with the present. Otherwise you’d forget.”

“Maybe we invented metaphor as a response to pain.”

“To be alive is to be missing.”

“I loved him, and I thought, maybe I will never see him again, and I’ll be stuck missing him, and isn’t that so terrible.”

“You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved, that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how you become a person, and why.”