Here are selected quotes from Looking for Alaska by John Green.
- "'He' - that's Simon Bolivar - 'was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. "Damn it," he signed. "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!"'" (18)
- "Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war." (56)
- "'Auden,' she announced. 'What were his last words?'
'Don't know. Never heard of him.'
'Never heard of him? You poor, illiterate boy. Here read this line.' I walked over and looked down at her index finger. 'You shall love your crooked neighbor / With your crooked heart,' I read aloud. 'Yeah, that's pretty good,' I said.
'Pretty good? Sure, and bufriedos are pretty good. Sex is pretty fun. The sun is pretty hot. Jesus, it says so much about love and brokenness - it's perfect.'" (85)
- "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." (88)
- "We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. 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 stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffering when they did." (197)
- "I realized it in waves and we held on to each other crying and I thought, God we must look so lame, but it doesn't matter much when you have just now realized, all the time later, that you are still alive." (214)
- "He was gone, and I did not have time to tell him what I had just now realized: that I forgave him, and the she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth... If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can't know better until knowing better is useless." (218)
- "I would never know her well enough to know her thoughts in those last minutes, would never know if she left us on purpose. But the not-knowing would not keep me from caring, and I would always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor, with all my crooked heart." (218)
- "Before I got here, I thought for a long time that the way out of the labyrinth was to pretend that it did not exist, to build a small, self-sufficient world in a back corner of the endless maze and to pretend that I was not lost, but home. But that only led to a lonely life accompanied only by the last words of the already-dead, so I came here looking for a Great Perhaps, for real friends and a more-than-minor life. And then I screwed up and the Colonel screwed up and Takumi screwed up and she slipped through our fingers. And there’s no sugar-coating it: she deserved better friends.
When she fucked up, all those years ago, just a little girl terrified into paralysis, she collapsed into the enigma of herself. And I could have done that, but I saw where it led for her. So I still believe in the Great Perhaps, and I can believe it in spite of having lost her.
Because I will forget her, yes. That which came together will fall apart imperceptibly slowly, and I will forget, but she will forgive my forgetting, just as I forgive her for forgetting me and the Colonel and everyone but herself and her mom in those last moments she spent as a person. I know now that she forgives me for being dumb and scared and doing the dumb and scared thing. I know she forgives me, just as her mother forgives her. And here’s how I know:
I thought at first that she was just dead. Just darkness. Just a body being eaten by bugs. I thought about her a lot like that, as something’s meal. What was her - green eyes, half a smirk, the soft curves of her legs - would soon be nothing, just the bones I never saw. I thought about the slow process of becoming bone and then fossil and then coal that will, in millions of years, be mined by humans of the future, and how they would heat their homes with her, and then she would be smoke billowing out of a smokestack, coating the atmosphere. I still think that, sometimes, think that maybe “the afterlife” is just something we made up to ease the pain of loss, to make our time in the labyrinth bearable. Maybe she was just matter, and matter gets recycled.
But ultimately I do not believe that she was only matter. The rest of her must be recycled, too. I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts. If you take Alaska’s genetic code and you add her life experiences and the relationships she had with people, and then you take the size and shape of hre body, you do not get her. There is something else entirely. There is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts. And that part has to go somewhere, because it cannot be destroyed.
Although no one will ever accuse me of being much of a science student, one thing I learned from science classes is that energy is never created and never destroyed. And if Alaska took her own life, that is the hope I wish I could have given her. Forgetting her mother, failing her mother and her friends and herself - those are awful things, but she did not need to fold into herself and self-destruct. Those awful things are survivable, because we ARE as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. 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, 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, as so it cannot fail.
So, I know that she forgives me, just as I forgive her. Thomas Edison’s last words were: “It’s very beautiful over there.” I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful." (218-221)