I’ve been wanting to read this book in a long time, ever since once in my early twenties when my Tumblr feeds were filled with the ever famous quote from the book, “I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” But I’ve never gotten around buying one, until I found a secondhand copy. I’ve finished it in less than a day. Looking For Alaska reminds me so much or Norwegian Wood (which I happened to read and loved dearly before picking this one up), and it revolves around the same theme – life, death, and suffering, metaphysics. I could easily say Green might have loved reading Murakami while growing up. Perhaps.
I also have a habit of dog-earing pages with my favourite quotes, so here are some of my favourites from this prize-winning piece of young adult literature!
1. Alaska reminding us that we need to actually do it.
“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 used the future to escape the present.”
2. Alaska reminding us that women need to protect other women.
“No woman should ever lie about another woman! You’ve violated the sacred covenant between women! How will stabbing one another in the back help women to rise above patriarchal oppression?”
3. Pudge conclusion about death and afterlife.
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.
4. Mr Hyde’s reflection on Alaska’s question, “how will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering”?
“Because everybody who has ever lost their way in life has felt the nagging insistence of that question. At some point we all look up and realize that we are lost in a maze, and I don’t want us to forget Alaska.”
5. Mr Hyde’s telling us a story of a Sufi woman who burns heaven and drenches hell.
“Rabe’a al-Adawiyah, a great woman saint of Sufism, was seen running through the streets of her hometown, Basra, carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When someone asked her what she was doing, she answered, ‘I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it over the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God.’ “
6. Pudge’ on the Buddhism concept of suffering.
The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we’d learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stop wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.
7. Pudge being right again.
He was gone, and I did not have time to tell him what I had just now realized: that I forgave him, and that she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth. There were so many of us who wold 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.
8. And again.
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. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.
9. And of course, the ever famous quote.
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 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. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.