Looking for Alaska starts off with the character named Miles Halter. Miles leaves his home in Florida to attend Culver Creek Preparatory High School in Alabama. Upon arrival, he meets his roommate, Chip Martin, who has the nickname “the Colonel,” and ironically dubs Miles as “Pudge.” It is Chip that introduces Miles to his old friend Alaska Young. Miles is automatically and instantly attracted to this young and vibrant girl. Alaska will continue to occupy Miles’ thoughts as he narrates the story shaped around the drama of his new friends and the trouble they cause together.
When starting this book, it is easy to sympathize with Miles Halter. Miles is starting a new year in high school, at a preparatory school that he is not even sure he wants to attend. While he is narrating the story, the emotion and honest innocence that John Green portrays in this character cuts the reader to the core. When something so honest is brought before the reader, it is hard to believe the straight forward words being said, but at the same time, it’s appreciated. It is the sincerity in this character that seems to impress so many. Often, it does not enter people’s mind that to be honest can be one of the hardest things to do. Miles Halter does not try to be anyone except himself.
As the title character, Alaska is a key player in this thrilling story. Throughout the book, she remains a mystery not only to Miles, but also to the readers. Miles describes Alaska’s bi-polar approach to life: ,“From a hundred miles per hour to asleep in a second.” It can be seen that Alaska also has this overall fascination with the concept of dying. Though she jokes about “smoking to die” and doing risky things, that’s when she feels most alive. Although it comes off a bit morbid, this intrigues Miles, and he doesn’t know how to handle such a twisted girl that still comes off as beautiful.
Another reason you should read this book is because it can teach life lessons on friendship. The way that the book’s group of friends work, hang out, and support each other is inspiring. There is a balance between what they all know is okay to talk about and what they let sit. Disagreements or arguments don’t last long between them, even if they do seem to occur a lot. It’s almost as if the people in the quarrel just want to get back to the fun. As a unit they seem like a system that can’t be broken. Everyone plays a part-- and Alaska is the piece that doesn’t necessarily keep them together, but makes it seem like there isn’t a better choice.
Once chosen by Alaska or Chip, you’re “in.” Just like on the first day: Miles arrived in his dorm room with Chip; Chip left the door open when he left and turned around five seconds later to ask Miles if he was going to follow. When Miles followed him out that door, he was walking into something he would never forget.
Read this book because, just like Miles, this could be a story you will always remember and hold close to your heart.
-by Tenille Duessler