Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down
Written by John Green

Publisher’s Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Primary Source Pairing:
From the descriptions of eating and digestion in Chapter 1 to the microbial exchange conversation with her therapist in Chapter 12, Aza is a main character who is incredibly in touch with her feelings. And that is kind of the challenge her life. As Dr. Singh reminds Aza: “You are as real as anyone, and your doubts make you more real, not less” (page 167). According to Dr. Singh, Aza has intrusive thoughts that spiral into anxiety and crowd her other thoughts. Aza prefers to think of them as invasive since they grow like weeds and spread out of control (page 45). Aza’s experience of overcoming these intrusive, invasive thoughts or at least keeping them at bay is a powerful narrative. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study two infographics and make connections to Aza’s experience in the text. The first one is included above on this page, the second one is linked here.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • How much of the text can you read? What does it say?
  •  What can you learn from examining this?
  • What do you see on the page besides writing?
  • Make a connection with something on this infographic with an experience Aza has in the book Turtles All the Way Down.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Mental Illness in the United States” infographic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/samhsa/22185054754
“What is OCD?” infographic: https://infographicjournal.com/what-is-ocd/

Additional Resource:
SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. https://www.samhsa.gov/