I have been really quiet lately here at Ash & Fern, but I’ve been very busy personally. We just bought a house! We’re still working towards the closing date later this spring, but I’ve already given myself carpal tunnel from signing my name to so many items. While the “adult” things of buying a house can be kind of a pain–who knew there were such things as crawl space specialists–I’ve been having fun thinking about the “fun” stuff, like planning how I’m going to furnish my new sunroom where I plan on spending the majority of my time. I think it was because of this current mindset that when I saw the new trailer for John Green’s Paper Towns yesterday, my first thought was: “That house is really cute. I really like the landscaping.”
Of course, I watched it a few more times and paid attention to the other aspects that I’ve been waiting anxiously to see ever since I first read the novel, and so far, I’m not disappointed. I’ve told many people, both adults and students, to read this book. Most people have heard of John Green from The Fault in Our Stars, and assume that it’ll be another tear jerker for teens, but they’re incredibly wrong. While The Fault in Our Stars definitely invokes emotions for many, Paper Towns hit me personally so much harder right in my nostalgic gut.
If you’re new to this story, it takes place the spring semester of the main characters’ senior year of high school. Q, our quirky, nerdy protagonist, has always been in love with his next door neighbor, the divine and magical Margo Roth Spiegelman. Of course, over the years, high school cliques have pushed between them, and Margo is currently dating the stud athlete while hanging out with the most popular clique in school. She finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her with some other popular chick, and she exacts revenge before mysteriously taking off. For most people the basic story line invokes bad memories of high school and all the awful things about being an adolescent shoved into an education system that perpetuates archaic stereotypes, but the heart of the story isn’t in the overarching plot. It’s in the details that Green masterfully installs into each turn.
Have you ever plastic wrapped a car? I have, and it’s fun, especially if you get the huge, industrial sized plastic wrap just like Margo and Q do during their night of revenge. A friend of mine had to cut through about 15 layers of it just to open one door before needing to slide under the sedan to make sure all the plastic was off the engine before he started it. (While that sounds like a really mean thing to do, keep in mind that I had my yard puked which is where you take everything from your refrigerator and shake it up in Ziploc bags and dump it in designs on the grass.) Have you ever broke into Sea World? I haven’t either like Margo and Q do, but I did sneak into a small extra party at Disney World using special armbands on a high school choir trip and made it about 30-minutes before a worker caught us and escorted us out nicely. Actually, now that I think about it, it was with the same friend who’s car I plastic wrapped…I’m seeing a pattern. Have you ever driven on a trip all night fueled by Mountain Dew and junk food like Q and his friends when they go to find Margo? If not, plan a road trip right now, because you’re missing out. These details that Green uses to show the freedom of teenage years transcends beyond the world of fiction into a lot of our younger selves.
Perhaps you don’t have as many similar experiences with the story as I do–I’ve even been in a car that spun 180 degrees in the middle of the highway like they show in the trailer, although I don’t recommend that as an experience–but most of us have some recollections of days and nights spent with friends doing something incredibly stupid because at the time, in our young, underdeveloped brains, we thought that we were invincible or that the only time that mattered was the now. Personally, I’m grateful for the friends I had to experience my crazy escapades with as well as the fact that I made it out alive and unscathed. Green’s small vignettes into that world I grew out of prick a part of me that wishes I was back spending all my money on fun rather than mortgages, but reminds me that I should make space even in my adult life for adventures with friends that allow for the possibility of great story making.
Read the story. See the movie. Connect back to your younger selves. Are there things we could warn them and teach them about? Absolutely, but just for a bit this spring, think about all those seniors about to graduate who have no idea that life is about to come at them full speed, and maybe just do something slightly stupid.
Interested in picking up Paper Towns? Please use our Amazon links to do so!