Looking for Alaska by John Green

I should have done extraordinary things. I should have sucked the marrow out of life. But on that day, I slept eighteen hours out of a possible twenty-four.



(With so many quotes from this book floating around Tumblr, I felt like I already read half the book without actually reading any of it. Only joking haha. Or am I.)

Sometimes, to get myself excited for life, I do countdowns. I countdown to the next big thing--to a trip into Philly, to a day of cafe hopping, to any sort of break. Countdowns give me something to look forward to as I anticipate an extraordinary day planned ahead. But you know what the real trick is? To realize that every day is another opportunity for an extraordinary day. What will you do with yours?

Miles is quite the average guy living quite the average life until he moves to Culver Creek Boarding School and Alaska Young enters his life. He's been searching for a Great Perhaps and Alaska is it. Suddenly this average guy with his average life is filled with extraordinary adventures.

I think we all have that one person we admire from afar, that one person who embodies everything we want to be. And to be with them would be the ultimate adventure. We go chasing after them in pursuit of the life we want to live. But the thing is, they'll always be one step further, because they are who they are being who they are and you are who you are trying to be what they are. You go on their adventures and pretend that they are your own. And before long you can no longer tell who you are without them.

It is most likely that if given the time, I'd be sleeping eighteen hours out of a possible twenty-four. Following a great adventure, you need some rest after all.

tl;dr-- So often we see other people doing extraordinary things, and we wish to be a part of it, wondering what the heck we're doing with our own. Every day is an extraordinary day, and all you need to do is take it. Live your own extraordinary life.


We’re just, you know, wreaking a little havoc.

I knew they wouldn’t come. Still, my mother persevered, awash in the delusion that I had kept my popularity secret from her all these years.

His last words were ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.

At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved.

That didn’t happen, of course. Things never happened like I imagined them.

I wondered whether I could find a Great Perhaps here at all or whether I had made a grand miscalculation.

I hated being careful, too—or wanted to, at least.

Yeah, I went to public school. But I wasn’t hot shit there, Chip. I was regular shit.

She had the kind of eyes that predisposed you to supporting her every endeavor.

Which is he trying to escape—the world or the end of it?

The phrase booze and mischief left me worrying I’d stumbled into what my mother referred to as “the wrong crowd,” but for the wrong crowd, they both seemed awfully smart.

When you’re walking at night, do you ever get creeped out and even though it’s silly and embarrassing you just want to run home?

No matter how miserably hot it got, I resolved, I would sleep in my clothes every night at the Creek, feeling—probably for the first time in my life—the fear and excitement of living in a place where you never know what’s going to happen or when.

Ya think you’s a-walkin’ on water, but turns out you just got piss in your shoes.
What are the rules of this game, and how might we best play it?

I know, I know: Why don’t we break up? I guess I stay with her because she stays with me. And that’s not an easy thing to do. I’m a bad boyfriend. She’s a bad girlfriend. We deserve each other.

The only real geniuses are artists.

On the far side of the bridge, there was a tiny path leading down a steep slope. Not even a path so much as a series of hints—a broken branch here, a patch of stomped-down grass there—that people had come this way before.

I don’t understand why you’re so obsessed with figuring out everything that happens here, like we have to unravel every mystery. God, it’s over. Takumi, you gotta stop stealing other people’s problems and get some of your own.

“Listening quietly” was my general social strategy.

Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.

Their unfortunate school colors were mud-brown and dehydrated-piss-yellow.

Kevin dressed preppy, looking like a lawyer-who-enjoys-golfing waiting to happen.

I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.

Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war.

I mean, it’s stupid to miss someone you didn’t even get along with. But, I don’t know, it was nice, you know, having someone you could always fight with.

I was a Christian. I guess. I’d been to church, uh, like four times. Which is more frequently than I’d been to a mosque or a synagogue.

She was smart, really, to rat on one of her friends, because no one ever thinks to blame the friends.

God, ‘I love you’ really is the gateway drug of breaking up.

I just did some calculations, and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.

I’m just scared of ghosts, Pudge. And home is full of them.

I did not hear her words so much as the cadence of her voice. She’d obviously read the book many times before, and so she read flawlessly and confidently, and I could hear her smile in the reading of it, and the sound of that smile made me think that maybe I would like novels better if Alaska Young read them to me.

Nothing’s wrong. But there’s always suffering... Suffering is universal.

You shall love your crooked neighbour / With your crooked heart. -Auden

I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase.

But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating.

If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.

Night falls fast. Today is in the past. -Edna St. Vincent Millay

The snow may be falling in the winter of my discontent, but at least I’ve got sarcastic company.

She said that it was sexist to leave the cooking to the women, but better to have good sexist food than crappy boy-prepared food.

Scared isn’t a good excuse! Scared is the excuse everyone has always used!

I try not to be scared, you know. But I still ruin everything. I still fuck up.

Don’t you know who you love, Pudge? You love the girl who makes you laugh and shows you porn and drinks wine with you. You don’t love the crazy, sullen bitch.

People, I thought, wanted security. They couldn’t bear the idea of death being a big black nothing, couldn’t bear the thought of their loved ones not existing, and couldn’t even imagine themselves not existing. I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn’t bear not to.

The Great Perhaps was upon us, and we were invincible. The plan may have had faults, but we did not.

I’m the motherfucking fox. No one can catch the fox.

Luck is for suckers.

Like the way the sun is right now, with the long shadows and that kind of bright, soft light you get when the sun isn’t quite setting? That’s the light that makes everything better, everything prettier, and today, everything just seemed to be in that light.

Best day of my life hasn’t happened yet. But I know it. I see it every day.

It was the central moment of Alaska’s life. When she cried and told me that she fucked everything up, I knew what she meant now. And when she said she failed everyone, I knew whom she meant. It was the everything and the everyone of her life, and so I could not help but imagine it.

There comes a time when we realize that our parents cannot save themselves or save us, that everyone who wades through time eventually gets dragged out to sea by the undertow—that, in short, we are all going.

What you must understand about me is that I am a deeply unhappy person.

People die how they live.

I know so many last words. But I will never know hers.

That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without.

What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.

I was so tired of her getting upset for no reason. The way she would get sulky and make references to the freaking oppressive weight of tragedy or whatever but then never said what was wrong, never have any goddamned reason to be sad. And I just think you ought to have a reason.

That night I let her go because she told me to. It was that simple for me, and that stupid.

Can’t wear it to the opera. Can’t wear it to a funeral. Can’t use it to hang myself. It’s a bit useless, as ties go.

More than anything, I felt the unfairness of it, the inarguable injustice of loving someone who might have loved you back but can’t.

I cried, whimpering, and I didn’t even feel sadness so much as pain. It hurt, and that is not a euphemism. It hurt like a beating.

Meriwether Lewis’s last words were, “I am not a coward, but I am so strong. So hard to die.” I don’t doubt that it is, but it cannot be much harder than being left behind.

“Oh God, Alaska, I love you. I love you.”
“I’m so sorry, Pudge. I know you did.”
“No. Not past tense.”

But I loved her present tense.

I spent the next day in our room, playing football on mute, at once unable to do nothing and unable to do anything much.

Getting pissed wouldn’t fix it. Damn it.

I kept it for myself like a keepsake, as if sharing the memory might lead to its dissipation.

He was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. “Damn it,” he sighed. “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!” -The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel García Márquez

But more than the noiselessness of everyone else was the silence where she should have been, the bubbling bursting storytelling Alaska.

How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?

And if I had cared about her as I should have, as I thought I did, how could I have let her go?

But I’d rather wonder than get answers I couldn’t live with.

“It’s fine,” I said, pulling the covers back over my head. “It’s fine,” I repeated. And, whatever. It was fine. It had to be.

Christ, Pudge. Do you even remember the person she actually was? Do you remember how she could be a selfish bitch? That was part of her, and you used to know it. It’s like now you only care about the Alaska you made up.

And maybe it was only because Alaska couldn’t hit the brakes and I couldn’t hit the accelerator. Maybe she just had an odd kind of courage that I lacked, but no.

You can’t just make me different and then leave. Because I was fine before, Alaska.

For she had embodied the Great Perhaps—she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone and with her my faith in perhaps.

I could call everything the Colonel said and did “fine.” I could try to pretend that I didn’t care anymore, but it could never be true again.

You can’t just make yourself matter and then die, Alaska, because now I am irretrievably different, and I’m sorry I let you go, yes, but you made the choice. You left me Perhapsless, stuck in your goddamned labyrinth.

A woman so strong she burns heaven and drenches hell.

You are a nerd, Pudge. But you’re not gonna let a detail like that keep you from drinking.

Everything’s a maybe, isn’t it?

Last words are always harder to remember when no one knows that someone’s about to die.

I never felt right taking people’s gifts, because they did not know that we’d loaded the bullets and put the gun in her hand.

Her body was there, but she was nowhere, nothing, POOF.

Everything that comes together falls apart.

Nothing can last, not even the earth itself.

When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.

Because memories fall apart, too. And then you’re left with nothing, left not even with a ghost but with its shadow.

And then something invisible snapped inside her, and that which had come together commenced to fall apart. And maybe that was the only answer we’d ever have. She fell apart because that’s what happens.

So we gave up. I’d finally had enough of chasing after a ghost who did not want to be discovered. We’d failed, maybe, but some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved.

It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.

We didn’t talk much. But we didn’t need to.

What is your cause for hope?

After all this time, it still seems to me like straight and fast is the only way out—but I choose the labyrinth. The labyrinth blows, but I choose it.

I know you loved her. It was hard not to.

There were so many of us who would have to live with things done and things left undone that day. Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can’t know better until knowing better is useless.

We are greater than the sum of our parts.

Those awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations.

Most loves don’t last. But some do.

Lies are attempts to hide the truth by willfully denying facts. Fiction, on the other hand, is an attempt to reveal the truth by ignoring facts.

And that’s why I write fiction, probably. It’s my attempt to keep that fragile strand of radical hope, to build a fire in the darkness.