In the past couple weeks I reread a few John Green books. Last week I read Looking for Alaska for book club, and today I read Turtles All the Way Down. Green truly has a grasp of life in all its sacrosanct morbidity. He drives a story forward without losing any of the sweat-stained teenage angst or hyperfocused self awareness.
I know there are haters out there that say, as an upper class, white, cis male, he shouldn't write characters that are... poor or female or persons of color, and so on. His characters are so richly written that it's hard for me to find fault with them. The characters that truly shine in his writing are the ones with mental health issues.
John Green has spoken publicly on his vlog, Vlog Brothers, about his personal battles with OCD and depression. His characters, Margo Roth Spiegelman in Paper Towns, Aza Holmes in Turtles All the Way Down, and Alaska Young in Looking for Alaska are well written characters that suffer from one ism or another. Aza's character is the first he's written in first person. I felt so In synch with Aza that her psychological breakdown left me with nightmares for days after the first time I read it.
John Green is known for writing tear-jerkers. That's an understatement. He's known for taking you into the wormhole of the world he built, holding your eyelids open lest you look away, and then, tear soaked and spiralling, he wrings every last drop of emotional torment out of you. His books are filled with humor, self effacement, and love, but they seldom end on a happy note. When I read his books I feel quenched, at least until the next book comes out.
The problem with happy endings is that they're either not really happy, or not really endings, you know? In real life, some things get better and some things get worse. And then eventually you die.