Miles Halter is tired of his safe life at home in Florida, so he leaves for boarding school in Alabama to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps” (Miles is obsessed with last words, and Francois’ are some of his favorites). He’s in for more than he bargained for, however, in the form of his new classmate Alaska Young. She’s sexy, mysterious, and troubled. Alaska captivates Miles in a way that he can’t explain, but it turns out that her problems are big. Real-life big. Miles realizes that getting out of his comfort zone and stepping into the Great Perhaps can be both beautiful and tragic.
Once again, John Green’s characters shine. He creates Alaska perfectly; as a reader, I understood Miles’ fascination with her because she feels like a real person but is also very mysterious. I love the cocky but sweet Colonel, and Miles with his quirky obsession with last words. I totally related to Miles’ restlessness and his desire to go out into the “Great Perhaps.” I, too, often feel like I’m wasting my life being “ordinary” and that I should be off doing something more meaningful or exciting. And, just like in real life, Miles discovers that putting yourself out there can hurt. Alaska, meanwhile, reminds us that even the people who seem like they have it all are sometimes struggling with worse things than we can imagine. The way that these characters’ stories come together is hilarious, beautiful, and heartbreaking all at the same time, and it’s a book that will stick with me for a long time.