Event Recap: John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down Book Tour by Michelle Biwer
Last week John Green, bestselling author and Printz winner for his debut novel Looking for Alaska, began the book tour for his new YA novel Turtles All the Way Down. I was lucky enough to grab a ticket for the sold out event in DC at George Washington University’s Lisner auditorium, which seated 1500 other fans. The event was hosted by the fabulous independent bookstore Politics and Prose.
John Green started off the evening by reading an excerpt from Turtles All the Way Down in which the maincharacter Aza attempts to explain the trapped in your own mind feeling that comes when struggling with a mental illness such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which both Aza and John Green share. Green took care to note after the reading that while he has OCD himself and that greatly informed his writing of the novel, his new book is a work of fiction and Aza’s illness does not manifest itself in the same ways as Mr. Green’s, nor are they the same character. He also cautioned us that there were very few turtles in this book, despite the title!
Lack of turtles in the novel notwithstanding, the next act of the show was led by a Dr. Lawrence Turtleman who presented a legitimate 5 minute powerpoint on taxonomy. It was no shock to fans of the Vlogbrothers that the strange man in the turtle costume giving a hilarious but accurate lecture on taxonomy was John’s brother, Hank Green. Hank and John are run the YouTube channel Vlogbrothers, a popular video blog that covers everything from their daily lives, to pranks and educational video. They have a large following among teens and young adults. I’m sure it was a weird shock for those who only know of John Green through his novels, butI hope those folks had fun too.
The brothers then reunited on stage to answer more questions from the audience, followed by an amazing acoustic guitar set from Hank (he sings nerdy songs about science and YA novels). John and Hank then set up for a live mini version of their popular “comedy” podcast Dear Hank and John, where listeners write in for advice and they give dubious (read: mostly bad, but very funny) advice. Comedy is in quotes because most of their jokes are about the imminent nature of death coming for all of us (but it truly is funny, I promise!)
There was a bit of a singalong at the end and then we all departed the theatre with swag including a tote bag, tour poster, and a signed copy of Turtles All the Way Down, which I look forward to reading very soon.
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About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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