And now, onto book three of my gifts.
Looking for Alaska is one of the more profound books I've read in a while, and I really was not sure what all to make of it at times. The book takes place at a boarding school in Alabama, where new student Miles Halter (nicknamed "Pudge" by his roommate Chip, a.k.a. "The Colonel") quickly assimilates into hos roommate The Colonel's group of friends. In this group is Alaska Young, the "that girl" of every book with an adolescent male protagonist. Alaska is beautiful, quirky, rebellious, slightly crazy, and all in all it's no wonder that Pudge falls in love with her nearly instantaneously.
The book's setup was fascinating in that it was divided into two sections: "Before" and "After." The event that separates these sections throws a huge wrench into the dynamic of this group of friends. I am sorry to say that I accidentally read a discussion question at the end of the book when looking for a little blurb on the author, and this one question ended up being a bit of a spoiler. So DON'T READ the discussion questions, whether purposely or accidentally! I really, truly wish that I could go back and not have known because I think this would have been a completely different book had I not figured out what was in between before and after.
Otherwise, the book was really good. It will probably never be a favorite of mine, but it's another one of those that educators really should read. It dealt with a number of heavy topics that many teenagers face at some point in their high school careers. Some of these topics felt very mature for the audience this book likely mainly gets as it's a Young Adult book, and I would have to say that I would probably be hesitant to recommend it to a teenager for this reason. But at the same time, it's probably nothing they haven't already encountered, right? And for that reason I'm terrified at the thought of being a parent. :)