Popular writer John Green's latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down, was surprisingly less tear-inducing than some of his previous works. It had plenty of heart-felt moments, sadness, and mourning, but the main focus of the story was the main character Aza's battle with anxiety.
The narrative gives a fascinating insight into the inner monologue of an anxiety sufferer, engendering empathy for the character and perhaps a stronger understanding of what those with mental health issues struggle with on a daily basis.
There is romance of a sort, so the story is not wholly consumed by Aza's involuntary self-torture, however there are other aspects of Aza's life, such as her connection with her best friend, the relationship she has with her mother, and so on, that help readers relate to Aza as a character.
The book developed a lot of interest in New Zealand not just because it was written by John Green, but because the story features a tuatara - New Zealand's largest endemic reptile. John Green appealed to New Zealanders for as many 5c coins as he could get, as he wanted to gift them to readers on his book tour as a 'token of kindness' - his own battle with mental illness being a contributing factor to the development of this book. Westlake Girls High School Librarian Megan Davidson rallied the troops, and collected a staggering 8,000 coins, which she delivered to Mr Green. He went on to publicly thank Megan, and the kiwis that donated the coins, saying "I will try to use them well; to give them out over the course of my life to those who might need a physical reminder of how kind people can be." You can watch the video he posted here: