When I realized that I hadn’t written about Paper Towns yet for Wordie Wednesday, I was somewhat flabbergasted. I had written about John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which has become one of the most beloved books of 2012, but Paper Towns has always held a special place in my heart for a few reasons, and I reread it on a yearly basis, partially because it reflects my own perspective on how we understand others. Thus, I knew I had to write about Paper Towns ASAP so that all of you can pick it up for a nice, relaxing holiday read.
The premise is simple; Quentin’s neighbor, Margo, who he has always had a crush on but doesn’t know very well, takes him out on a night-long adventure in which he is pushed to do all sorts of mischevious things outside of his comfort zone. For Quentin, this night is life-changing, and he knows that school the next day will be different because Margo has fundamentally changed him. However, he discovers that Margo has run away. This isn’t out of the ordinary– Margo has flown the coop several times in the past, but this time, for several reasons, feels more final. However, once Quentin realizes she has left behind clues, clearly left for him to find and interpret, he makes it his sole ambition to find her and bring her back.
What’s so fascinating about Paper Towns is how it explores the idea that we define others through our own perspectives and our own imaginings. Quentin originally sees her as an idealized manic pixie dream girl, but realizes, as he searches for her, that he hasn’t perceived her correctly– rather, he must try to understand her fundamentally to figure out where she has disappeared to. His understanding of Margo changes and deepens dramatically as he studies the clues she leaves behind and attempts to plumb the depths of this girl that he is obsessed with.
This idea of perception is absolutely fascinating to me and really hammers home the fact that, as Walt Whitman says in “Leaves of Grass,” “I contain multitudes.” It’s easy to simplify the people that we know, but in order for us to begin to understand them we must remind ourselves of their complexity and that our own life experiences affect our understanding of them. Intriguing, right?? Go read Paper Towns, stat.
PS– I have so many exciting blog posts on the docket! An adorable Boston engagement session will be up on the blog tomorrow, and I’ll also write about my hijinks in Boston soon after– make sure to check back in to join in on the excitement!