November 13, 2019

Dear John Green,

I never liked the idea of vulnerability. But I love how Alaska proudly wore it on her sleeve.

Before I met Alaska Young, I knew exactly who I wanted to be. I was going to be tough, like a rock. Cold and unforgiving, so that no one could hurt me. This was not because I was scared to be hurt because it had happened to me before, but it was because I had plans. I was going to go to college, be successful, write books and articles, and live in Dallas, and travel the world. Most importantly, I was going to be happy. I couldn’t let anyone jeopardize my neatly organized and planned life.

Then, I read Looking for Alaska. Alaska Young is the most not-to-be-messed-with character that I have ever read. In my experience, that would normally mean she was just like the person I wanted to be; cold and unforgiving. Alaska, however, was different. She wasn’t as cold as ice, she had a heart of gold. Throughout the entire novel she never implied that being sensitive or in pain made her inferior. She didn’t hide her traumas or insecurities. No matter how vulnerable and sensitive she’s depicted as, the reader never doubts how tough she is. She (along with Chip) is the mastermind behind all of her friends’ brilliant pranks. She cried hysterically only because she was discovered as a rat, and was still a politically aware feminist who called out any sexist remarks from her friends without hesitation. She’s tough, intelligent, cunning, and wild. She’s also sensitive, kind, vulnerable, and loyal. She is all of these things at once. It made me realize that I could be too.

I was terrified of being hurt, and of being vulnerable. This, however, was not the only thing your book changed for me; Alaska Young, unfortunately, dies. It was the most heart-wrenching, gut-twisting part of your book. However, the book still had a happy ending. Miles and all of Alaska’s friends learned to move on, and the death of their most wild, and loyal friend caused them to change for the better. It was because things happen for a reason. They change for a reason. Before your book, all I wanted was for things to stay the same. I did not want anything to move, because I was familiar and comfortable with what I had. With what I knew, because it felt like I knew everything that I needed to know. But I only knew everything that I needed to know then. Not now, not in the future. I realized I can’t learn without moving on. I can’t be happy if I’m always fighting the current. My life cannot just be a battle against the things that change around me, because I would always lose. Miles had to leave for Culver Creek to grow. He could not be Mr. Perfect forever, because he had to grow. Alaska had to die, in order for everyone to grow.

Your book changed my life. It changed the way I wanted to see myself. How I perceived the world around me. Everything about my neatly organized life was starting to change, piece by piece. It was something I used to be so afraid of happening, but now I embrace it with open arms. I realized I stuck to the same visualization of my future because I wanted the same thing for years and I was scared of changing that. I love writing, but I do not want my career to revolve around it. I cut off my best friend of three years because although our friendship was familiar, it was toxic. I changed so much about life, and so many times it left me hurting, and I’m so glad it did. I’m happy that I learned what it’s like to be hurt, because it means I know what it is like to learn and to grow, and because I know that it is not going to be the last time. I’m so glad I experienced new things, and that so much of it was because I caused it, I am the one that initiated my growth.

I accept the fact that not everything in my life is planned anymore, and that I’m still figuring out who I am and who I want to be. It’s okay to not know the answers right now, because if I do, what’s the point of living, of moving on? I understood the message of your novel: to choose and accept the twisted and complicated labyrinth.

Faithfully yours,

Ceci Longoria

Page last modified: March 11, 2020