Green, John 1977-
Green, John 1977-
Born 1977, in Birmingham, AL. Education: Kenyon College, B.A., 2000. Hobbies and other interests: Writing, reading, child prodigies, conjoined twins, boxing, the State of Alabama, contemporary art, soccer, white wine, anagrams, YA books, bluegrass music, Islam, and last words.
Worked as a chaplain in a children's hospital; Booklist, Chicago, IL, production editor and book reviewer.
Michael L. Printz Award, for Looking for Alaska.
Looking for Alaska (young adult novel), Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
An Abundance of Katherines (young adult novel), Dutton Books (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor, with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur) Mental Floss: Genius Instruction Manual, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor, with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur) Mental Floss: What's the Difference, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor, with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur) Mental Floss: Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor, with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur) Ransom Riggs, Will Hickman, and Hank Green, Scattered Brained, Collins (New York, NY), 2006.
Paper Towns, Dutton Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor of radio scripts, including to All Things Considered, National Public Radio, and to WBEZ, Chicago; contributor to national magazines.
Looking for Alaska has been adapted as a film of the same title, directed by Josh Schwartz.
John Green worked briefly as a chaplain at a children's hospital following his college graduation, a position he credits with giving him a great deal of insight into the thoughts of teenagers. He then moved on to Booklist, starting off as a temp and working his way up to production editor and occasional book reviewer. In addition, he contributes frequently to National Public Radio (NPR)'s All Things Considered and to Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ. He got his start writing for NPR thanks to a work-related correspondence for Booklist with writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who had a periodic program on WBEZ. Rosenthal found Green's e-mails entertaining and asked if he had ever written any short pieces that might be suitable for radio. Although he had not, Green claimed to have a few things that were appropriate; he then promptly went home and wrote several brief, humorous articles. Rosenthal selected one of them, "Nine Girls I've Kissed and What I Learned about Them from Google," and aired it. Several additional articles followed, and eventually Green found himself recording a piece for All Things Considered. In an interview for MediaBistro.com, Green explained what it's like to write for the radio: "I have no idea what would be good for the air. But I've always read my writing aloud to myself…. What I later learned is that when you're writing for the radio, you have to dispense with flashy writing and abundant adjectives in favor of action verbs and funny jokes. Writing for the radio needs to be very, very tight, because people get bored easily."
Green's young adult novel, Looking for Alaska, is about a young man named Miles "Pudge" Halter, who leaves his home in Florida to attend Culver Creek, a boarding school in Birmingham, Alabama. The Alaska in the title is not the state, but a girl Pudge meets in school and who is the driving force of the clique that adopts Pudge. Neither popular nor outgoing at his previous school, Pudge now finds himself part of a colorful group that includes a trailer park kid with an eerie memory whose name is Chip but goes by the nickname Colonel, a Japanese student named Takumi, a Romanian girl named Lara, and, of course, Alaska. His new friends are brilliant, willing to discuss Edna St. Vincent Millay and W.H. Auden, but they are also troublemakers with a tendency to drink in the woods and smoke in the school bathrooms. This insistence on bucking the system seems intriguing to Pudge, until Alaska's extreme behavior gets her killed in a drunken collision with a police car, an incident that may or may not have been a suicide. Pudge, who has always had a fascination with the last words of famous people, suddenly finds himself facing death on a very personal level.
Peter D. Sieruta, in a review for Horn Book, called Green's work a "mature novel, peopled with intelligent characters who talk smart, yet don't always behave that way, and are thus notably complex and realistically portrayed teenagers." A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that "the novel's chief appeal lies in Miles's well-articulated lust and his initial excitement about being on his own for the first time." School Library Journal contributor Johanna Lewis commented that "Miles's narration is alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor, and his obvious struggle to tell the story truthfully adds to his believability." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic Deborah Stevenson concluded that "Green gives the time-tested plot of boarding school maturation its full and considerable due, evoking the substantial appeal of the situation's hothouse intensity, heady independence, and endless possibilities."
Green himself admits that his own boarding school experience was a source of material for the book. In an interview for the Penguin Putnam Web site, he remarked: "I like writing for teenagers because big questions—about love and religion and compassion and grief—matter to teens in a very visceral way. And it's fun to write teenage characters. They're funny and clever and feel so much so intensely."
Green followed with An Abundance of Katherines, another young adult novel in which the protagonist, math whiz Colin, uses a cleverly constructed Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability to help him understand why he has been dumped by nineteen girls named Katherine. Green worked on the actual theorem with University of Chicago assistant professor Daniel Bliss, and they proved it by adding in their own past histories with girlfriends, as well as those of celebrities like Jessica Simpson.
Seventeen-year-old Colin has a clever friend as well in Hassan, who suggests a road trip to get over his loss of the most recent Katherine. They spend the summer collecting the oral histories of Gutshot, Tennessee, for a woman who owns a factory that manufactures tampon strings and whose daughter, Lindsey, works with Colin on his theorem. Green includes an appendix that explains the math.
Paula Rohrlick reviewed the novel for Kliatt, writing: "Sophisticated teens will enjoy the wordplay and the warm friendships portrayed." "Fully fun, challengingly complex and entirely entertaining," concluded a Kirkus Reviews contributor.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, "Last Words from a First Novelist," interview, p. 1181; August 1, 2006, Cindy Dobrez, review of An Abundance of Katherines, p. 75.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 2005, Deborah Stevenson, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 252.
Horn Book, March-April, 2005, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 201; September-October, 2006, Claire E. Gross, review of An Abundance of Katherines, p. 583.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 287; August 15, 2006, review of An Abundance of Katherines, p. 841.
Kliatt, March, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 12; September, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of An Abundance of Katherines, p. 12.
New York Times Book Review, November 12, 2006, Regina Marler, review of An Abundance of Katherines, p. 40.
Publishers Weekly, February 7, 2005, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 61; July 25, 2005, September 4, 2006, review of An Abundance of Katherines, p. 69.
School Library Journal, February, 2005, Johanna Lewis, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 136; September, 2006, Amy S. Pattee, review of An Abundance of Katherines, p. 206.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (May 28, 2007), Kerrily Sapet, review of An Abundance of Katherines and "John Green," interview.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (May 28, 2007), Beth Dugan, review of Looking for Alaska.
Mediabistro.com,http://www.mediabistro.com/ (May 28, 2007), "Pop Quiz: John Green," interview.
Penguin Putnam Web site,http://www.penguinputnam.com/ (May 28, 2007), "Q&A with Author John Green."
Pop Goes the Library,http://www.popgoesthelibrary.com/ (November 27, 2006), "Interview with John Green."
John Green Home Page,http://www.sparksflyup.com (May 28, 2007).
Teenreads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (May 28, 2007), Alexis Burling, review of Looking for Alaska; Brian Farrey, review of An Abundance of Katherines; "John Green," interview.