by Delaney Stekr
The shape of the earth and its creation has always been a bit of a mystery to mankind. In “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green, one particular myth about the shape of the earth is that the earth is flat and sitting on the back of a big turtle. And underneath that turtle is another turtle. And another turtle. Turtles all the way down. This story is used to emphasize the image of spiraling and repetition that is used throughout the book.
Anxiety can be a burden for anyone. Remembering an assignment you haven’t started the block before it is due, being late for an important meeting or hearing the garage door open and realizing that your mom asked you to clean the kitchen and you have done nothing of the sort; all instill a degree of anxiety. Panic sets in, but once you find the solution or face the consequences, the stress and anxiety fade. Imagine living with that panic and stress nonstop.
In “Turtles All the Way Down” Aza Holmes lives with this terminal stress. She refers to it as a “never-ending spiral” that is constantly tightening, and inhibits her from being herself. “The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, indefinitely” (7).
She cannot be herself because her mind is overtaken by irrational thoughts that rare diseases are going to kill her. This book touches the importance of loving yourself for who you are, even if you aren’t exactly who you want to be yet. Aza experiences all of the turmoils any 16-year-old would, but experiences them with voices in the back of her head telling her about the dangers of everything she is doing.
This book not only addresses the anxieties of Aza, but those of Green himself. In an interview with Megan McCluskey from Time, he spoke about how his own mental illnesses served as a parallel for this book. He said it was extremely difficult for him to write the book, but he felt it was necessary to address mental illnesses and the effect they can have on daily life.
This book is a great story about accepting yourself regardless of flaws, and the difficulty of dealing with mental illnesses.