Looking for Alaska

by John Green

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How did Alaska get her name?

Alaska got her name by picking it herself. It was a seventh birthday gift from her parents. She spent the whole day looking at her dad’s globe for a really cool name. Her first choice was Chad, but as that was a boy’s name, she chose Alaska instead.

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Miles has taken a while to find out why Alaska has such a strange name. But in the flush of his B-plus average, which he credits to her tutoring, he finally plucks up the courage to ask. Alaska says that the question always comes up eventually, indicating that she’s been asked it many times before.

She explains that her mom was always a bit of a hippie when she was growing up. As well as wearing oversized sweaters and smoking pot, she also wanted to give her daughter a really hippyish name. She settled on Harmony Springs Young. But her father, a more traditional type, preferred Mary Frances Young.

During her early years, Alaska was known as Mary, but it was always understood that she would get to choose her own name when she was old enough. So, on her seventh birthday, Mary, as she then was known, was given the right to choose her name as a gift from her parents.

The little girl spent all day looking at her dad’s globe for a really cool sounding name. Eventually, she decided on Chad, but as her father pointed out, that’s a boy’s name, so Mary chose Alaska, the name by which she’s been known ever since.

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