First Lines: The Great John Green Re-Read Project 2018, Part 2

As I noted in part one of this series, in the last couple of years a lot of things have changed for me. And with that, the way I looked at John Green’s first three novels changed as well. Which makes sense, as they’re all boy-meets-girl-and-dealing-with-all-that-while-dealing-with-life-as-well-is-complicated stories, and I was not in that place anymore.

Now, that does not mean that Green’s last three novels are not of the boy-meets-girl, dealing-with-life and it-is-all-kinda-complicated type. They all are. But they are about so much more as well.

With the Magical Powers of Hindsight, it seemed to me that Will Grayson, Will Grayson (written with David Levithan) is the bridge between Green’s first three novels, and what came after. Maybe that’s because it was the first time it really covered minority issues. Katherines has a character who is muslim, but that didn’t bring up any issues. In WGWG, titular straight nerdy Will Grayson’s gay best friend Tiny Cooper falls in love with other titular gloomy closeted-gay Will Grayson. Which, in this day and age, makes it kinda complicated. Other than that, sure, it still a pretty straight-forward story. But a good and smart one.

The Fault in Our Stars is something else entirely, with the bit where all the cancer makes it all just a bit more complicated. When I first read it back in 2012, it hit me like a hammer. And then all my medical stuff happened, so all the existentialism and the worries and the medical stuff, well, you can imagine why TFiOS hit just a bit harder this time. If you want to check out something by John Green, this is a great place to start.

And finally, probably my favorite, Turtles All the Way Down. I first read it less than a year ago, so while it didn’t really open itself in new ways, it struck me again how great it is at being a fairly typical John Green novel, while being completely its own thing. Our hero Aza struggles with OCD and anxiety, and to her that sometimes feels like being sucked in a tightening spiral that just does not end, and not having control over any of it. It’s turtles all the way down. Now, I can not entirely relate, but to be honest, I know that feeling. And “whether it hurts is kind of irrelevant” is still a pretty good life motto.

Book read
John Green & David Levithan — Will Grayson, Will Grayson
First line
When I was little, my dad used to tell me, Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friends nose.
Book read
John Green — The Fault in Our Stars
First line
Late in the winter of my 17th year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time thinking about death.
Book read
John Green — Turtles All the Way Down
First Line
At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time — between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M. — by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn’t even begin to identify them.