PAPER TOWNS by John Green

“And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

For a first post, I thought I’d write about my second favorite book of all time, while also simultaneously keeping up with the media hype that is Paper Towns: The Movie. I must confess that I have yet to see the movie, partly because a. I was afraid that the movie industry would manage to single-handedly destroy a wonderful piece of fiction and b. my movie theater actually pulled the movie after a week before I could even get to see it. I will be the first to admit that yes, I do frequent $5 morning showings alongside either the extremely old or the extremely young. The lines are horrendous, the children are noisy, and the amount of soda and popcorn I see getting ingested at that hour is slightly sickening, but I decided it’s worth it for $5. Movie prices are just so exorbitantly high these days, it’s alarming. I remember going with my father to the movies when I was a child and the tickets used to be $6. Now tickets are anywhere from $11-13, and don’t even get me started on IMAX. Anyway, I digress. Back to the book.

Margo Roth Spiegelman, a girl so illustrious that her name must be said in its entirety, is yet another one of Green’s quirky female protagonists who believes in random capitalization and late-night adventures. In fact, most all of the characters turn out to be humorously memorable, which is a nice change from the traditional role of “Bland Supporting Character.” I think my personal favorite was Radar and his parents’ collection of black Santas. I mean, it’s not even a large collection of teapots or wine corks or seashells-it’s a black Santa collection. Who would have ever thought of that? Q’s friends made me want to jump in the car and road trip with them, in spite of the fact that I might end up having to pee in an empty beer bottle. At first, I thought it was going to be another classic scenario of unpopular boy likes popular girl, girl doesn’t know boy exists, boy wins girl over eventually, everyone lives happily ever after, but no. I am SO glad Green proved me wrong.

There are a  few key concepts that I feel the need to elaborate on, the first being how the whole book ultimately revolves around how Q is trying to make sense of this girl whom he holds high on a pedestal, a girl he regards as perfect when, in reality, she’s nothing but a girl, just as lost as he is. It’s quite often that we fall victim to imagining a person to be someone they’re not and we’re often disappointed when our imaginings don’t match up with reality. But why do we do this? In Q’s case, I feel like he fell in love with little Margo and never quite fell out until the end, when he realized that a person can change from what you thought they were. I must admit, the ending was not my favorite at first, and it was not until I had reread the book several times over that I started to appreciate the abruptness of it. I was disappointed that Q and Radar and Ben and Lacey and basically everyone who knew Margo went through all of this only to have Margo be totally okay and actually kind of a hermit. For the briefest of seconds, I did contemplate the fact that Margo might be dead, since death appears to be a common theme in some of Green’s other books, namely Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. But then I realized. I was like Q. Margo had surprised us all and that was the reason why I felt let down. It would have been so much easier if Q had found Margo, waiting eagerly to see if anyone had managed to piece together the pieces of her latest puzzle. It would have been predictable if Q had come in and swept Margo off her feet, returning just in time for graduation. It wasn’t even that Margo just didn’t like being popular, it was that she was a completely different person than everyone thought she was. So why were we so disappointed? Is it awful of us to be let down by the actual person not living up to the one in our imagination?

And then that made me wonder how well we actually know anyone. Green had a lovely way of wording that no matter how hard we try to be perfect, we are all cracked. Maybe one person starts to crack after not getting accepted to Princeton, and maybe another person starts after struggling with depression for years, but ultimately, people break in different ways. We can try to tape over the cracks, but eventually, it gets easier to just let the light in and out. That’s part of what makes us human, our ability to feel and our desire to connect. Doesn’t everyone just want to be understood, even if it’s in the smallest way? I think it’s when we open ourselves up, even just a little, to someone else that we stop being imagined. And yes, it’s terrifying and we’re vulnerable, but we’re real. And what could possibly be better?

First sentence: “The longest day of my life began tardily.”

Last sentence: “Yes, I can see her almost perfectly in this cracked darkness.”