How much do we really know a person? There are already several books that have confronted this question– The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve and The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst, to name a few — and most conclude that we can never really arrive to a point that we can exactly say that we truly know a person. Not even if such person is our husband/wife whom we swore to love with all our hearts and live with for the rest of our lives. We can never come to know a person fully well. Come to think of it, we are even surprised sometimes with our very own selves!
This is the conclusion that I arrived at after reading Paper Towns, my very first John Green novel. I am awestruck at the writing genius of John Green and I must say that he (and Patrick Ness) absolutely changed my mind against reading YA. So yes, I can say that I am now a YA fiction fan. 😉
In Paper Towns, Quentin Jacobsen, or Q narrates his adventures and misadventures when Margo Roth Spiegelman, the love of his life, disappeared. Q, however, feels that Margo has left clues for him prodding him to go and look for her. What happens next is a journey of self-discovery, change, growing up, and most of all, unwavering friendships.
What really made me fall in love with this book is the prose. John Green is a very engaging storyteller and his characters are authentic. The dialogues were all witty and honest, young and refreshing. Q is a goody-goody kind of guy but learns how to tell a lie when Margo asks him to escape into the night, steal his parents’ car, and sneak into Sea World. Ben and Radar, Qs friends, are as quirky as most friendships are and their conversations never failed to make me crack in laughter, especially that journey they made at their high school graduation. And then, there’s Margo. The mysterious Margo. The way Q describes her at the beginning of the story makes it appear that Margo is perfect, thus unreal. But as the story unfolds, I am amazed at the realizations that Q had not only about Margo but about how we view people we love.
In college, I remember doing an activity in our sociology (or was it psychology?) class. It was called the Johari’s window illustrated like this:
I cannot exactly recall how the activity turned out but I can still distinctly recall my feeling of amazement at the extent of how we really knew ourselves as well as the people around us. How much more if our perceptions are clouded with feelings of love and adoration towards a person?
Finally, why Paper Towns? What is a paper town? What these two words really mean is a discovery in itself worth finding out as one reads the book. Amazing, really. John Green is amazing. And Paper Towns will certainly not be the last book I will read. I heard The Fault In Our Stars is equally stunning.
“Nothing ever happens like you imagine it will,” she says…”Yeah, it’s true,” I say. But then I after I think about it for a second, I add, “But then again, if you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.”