** This suggestion was posted during Banned Books Week 2015 **
Miles Halter is a skinny kid who memorizes the last words of famous people and has a nondescript life in a nondescript Florida town where he attends, but isn’t really present, at a public high school. When he gets the chance to go to a private school in his junior year, he jumps at the opportunity, hoping to get a little excitement out of a new locale. He leaves home, and his parents, to travel to Culver Creek.
At Culver Creek Preparatory High School, an Alabama private school near a wealthy town, he is quickly welcomed by his roommate and soon-to-be co-conspirator: “the Colonel”. The Colonel gives Miles the ironic nickname of “Pudge” and introduces him to the rest of the group of boarding students who carry on a prank war with the “Weekday Warriors”: the sons and daughters of wealthy local parents. This group includes Alaska Young, a beautiful, funny, temperamental, and self-destructive girl who Pudge falls in love with after their first meeting.
The story revolves around the prank war, school days, and Pudge’s infatuation with Alaska. The Colonel and Alaska plan and implement pranks in retaliation for perceived slights and betrayals that loom large in the lives of private school teens. One night, after drunkenly celebrating an elaborate prank, tragedy strikes and Pudge’s world changes forever.
Looking for Alaska explores that awkward time in our lives when we are leaving childhood but not quite adults. Often, we are left on our own to start figuring out the things parents don’t always talk about, like loyalty, love, sex and death. The book explores these themes through Pudge’s fumbling missteps and small triumphs. We can see him change and mature as he starts to find out who he is, and perhaps who he will be.