I could write a screen play based on the drama unfolding in my life. I imagine my life isn’t so different from yours, if you are raising teenagers and/or coping with aging parents.
When you think about it, our teenage children have a lot in common with their grandparents. Teenagers make bad choices because their brains aren’t fully developed. An elderly person makes bad decisions because their brains are deteriorating with disease—senility, or perhaps dementia or Alzheimer’s. Our teenagers act irrational because their hormones are raging out of control while our aging parents throw temper tantrums out of frustration over their failing bodies. Teenagers forget important details out of convenience, the elderly forget because their memory isn’t what it once was. Both are stubborn, refusing to ask for help when they desperately need it, and rebellious, insisting we—the middle age parent and child—are stupid and uninformed.
They have their differences as well. One is applying to college, the other to a retirement home. One is an inexperience driver, the other a dangerous driver. One misuses social media, the other doesn’t understand social media. One never calls, the other calls all the time—especially at dinner. One stays out past curfew, the other goes to bed before dark.
Our teenagers and our aging parents are impatient and self-centered. They demand our attention, but only when it is convenient for them—when they aren’t preoccupied with their friends or watching jeopardy. The stress over worrying about our loved ones is consuming. They are the source of many of the arguments we have with our spouses. They cause us to lose sleep. They are the reason we reach for the wine bottle at the end of the day.
They drive us nuts, but we love them, and we will miss them when they’re gone. Enjoy the good times and endure the bad. Raising teenagers and coping with our aging parents is God’s way of preparing us for the next stage in life.
(disclaimer: My intention is not to stereotype or make fun of anyone. Many of my middle-aged friends are experiencing similar situations, therefore I know I’m not alone. A good laugh helps us survive what life dishes out. After all, a life without humor is a life not worth living.)
Looking for Alaska
by John Green
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.
I read Looking for Alaska by John Green immediately after reading his later work, The Fault in our Stars, a book that moved me and that stayed with me several days after finishing. Shame on me: I should know better by now than to read books by the same author back to back – how could I help but compare?! After hanging on every word uttered by Hazel and Gus (in Fault), I kept unconsciously waiting to hear similarly memorable language from Pudge and his friends (in Alaska). Further, Hazel’s dry dark wit (biting, but filled with humor and compassion) is unmatched by Pudge’s less endearing lack of self-esteem and ability to appreciate the absurd minutiae of life. While Hazel is a brave and inspiring, thoughtful and inspired teenage cancer patient, Pudge seems to be somewhat self-absorbed, running from his nerdy unsatisfying home life to a privileged boarding school of more indulgent troubled teens. Even Hazel’s co-characters and fellow cancer patients, Gus and Isaac, engage in less self-pity than Pudge’s friends, Chip and especially Alaska. This is likely more by John Green’s design now that I have read and am considering both books. While I have given negative feedback thus far about Looking for Alaska, I did thoroughly enjoy the reading experience. Only a bit slow during the second half as Pudge and Chip sort through clues as to why and exactly how Alaska’s life ended, the story motivated me to uncover the truth and her motivations along with the friends . Looking for Alaska rates 3 stars from me.