by John Green
Teenagers are a strange breed, whatever their nationality or background. I know because I was one once, as was my daughter! I have read a number of books for and about teenagers over the past few years and I have to say that John Green’s novels are the most useful in helping to understand this large and varied group.
Paper Towns is the story of Margo Roth Spiegelman and Quentin Jacobson, long-term neighbours whose relationship is the central pillar around which the plot revolves. Quentin loves his wayward neighbour but Margo herself does not seem to feel the same way. Close as youngsters, by the time they face graduation from High School their relationship is distant. That is until Margo seeks Quentin’s help with revenge on some of her so-called friends. The following day, Margo has disappeared and Quentin seems to be the only person who cares about what has happened to her.
Rather helpfully, Margo has left a series of clues as to her intentions which Quentin and his closest friends attempt to follow. But the events of that summer leave all their lives changed, not always in ways they might have anticipated. For Quentin, that summer offers opportunities for self-discovery that Margo, even her absence, opens up to him.
As an observation of teenage angst and troubles, Paper Towns is one of the best I have read. It is amusing, insightful and entertaining but also tackles some interesting issues. Although Margo herself remains physically absent for the greater part of the book, her influence on those around her is profound. I enjoyed the book immensely and would recommend it.