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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 293

John Green's Turtles All the Way Down is, at its core, an attempt by John Green to work through his own issues with anxiety. He, like the main character, Aza, suffers from OCD, and this is made very clear by the realistic, unflinching tone of the novel. Most of Green's...

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John Green's Turtles All the Way Down is, at its core, an attempt by John Green to work through his own issues with anxiety. He, like the main character, Aza, suffers from OCD, and this is made very clear by the realistic, unflinching tone of the novel. Most of Green's work is tempered with humor mixed in with the tragedy, but readers can tell when they read this book that this is something much more serious and personal for the writer. A book like this could not have been written by someone who hadn't gone through similar experiences in their own life.

Aza's entire life is influenced by her OCD. There is not one moment where she can put it aside and just concentrate on what is happening in the moment, not even in the moments when she falls in love or spends time with her best friend. This is something that readers with anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders can all relate to. The book is painful for this very reason, making it a difficult read.

Green's goal, though, is to bring some of these issues to light. He wants to show a character who is not the "stereotypical teenaged hero" that appears in most novels, and he wants to tell a story that doesn't necessarily have a happy ending. This story is real, raw, and heartbreaking at times because it is based on what Green himself really felt/feels. His OCD may not manifest itself in a never-healing cut on his hand that he keeps prodding like Aza does, but his own experiences with this condition make this novel unlike any of his others - which also means that it receives both more acclaim and more harsh criticism than they do.

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