Miles goes off to boarding school in Alabama looking for the Great Perhaps: adventure, meaning, real friends. He finds the usual assortment of oddballs, including Alaska: hot, confident, exceedingly smart, emotionally scarred, she’s an amazing friend one minute and a selfish bitch the next.
For the first half of the book, sections are labeled “___ days before,” (and in the second half, “___ days after,”) such that we know that Something Bad is going to happen in the general vicinity of Christmas or New Years. Before: booze, cigarettes, pranks, and the study of precalc and religion. After: booze, cigarettes, pranks, and the study of precalc and religion. Also after: trying to figure out what happened, trying to make sense of it, trying to explain it.
It’s not the type of book I usually read, but it came highly recommended , and it’s worth it. Much of the time, when I read books that really throw me into a teenage boy’s head, I feel that I just don’t get it. Excellent books that I enjoy and get a lot out of, but there’s a disconnect. This was just as much in a teenage boy’s head, but it still made sense. A lot of that’s the excellent writing and characterization. I think it’s also partly because so much of Miles’s experience that year involves Alaska; because a girl is so central to everything that’s going on, even the boys’ interactions with each other, it’s grounded in something I do (somewhat) understand.