“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”
-John Green, Paper Towns
About two weeks ago I was so engulfed and excited by the Paper Towns movie trailer that I decided I just had to re-read the book. I first read this book in 2010 and to be honest, I can’t believe it’s been five years since then. Books have a magical quality to them. When you find a book that captures your attention, and, potentially, your heart, you remember it. You remember every moment of it. There are ten or twelve books in my life in which I remember eagerly racing to my bedroom after school to lock myself in and read. Paper Towns was one of them.
Now, I want to be honest right off the bat. In 2010, when I was fifteen, I did not like the ending of this book. It felt so, so lackluster. But that’s life, isn’t it? Not lackluster necessarily, but it’s not perfect, it’s not perfectly planned out. There are twists and turns and none of us really know what we’re doing. Now, in 2015, as I near the age of twenty, I love the ending of this book.
“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” The second time around, this sentence struck me, hard. I think a lot of us have an idealized view of people, whether they’re idealized perceptions of ourselves or of our friends, our favorite celebrities, or even that cute boy in your English class. We may imagine people as either gods and goddesses, pure evil, or somewhere in between. And it is a “treacherous thing” to think that someone is more than just a person, just a naturally flawed person like you and me. I’ve definitely experienced what Quentin has in Paper Towns. Not to the extent that my crush went missing and I had to go on a sudden, slightly irresponsible road trip to find him, but as I reflect on my own history, the majority of my so-called crushes have been “Margos.” I don’t like the person so much as I like my perception of them, of what they’re like. This is not the way to fall in love nor is it the way to experience heartbreak when you discover that they aren’t who you thought/wanted them to be.
Don’t give anyone a paper crown. Find out who they are before putting them on a pedestal. Unless, of course, we’re talking about Miles Teller. He’s an exception.
If you have yet to read Paper Towns, but you plan to see the film, just stop. Read the book first and then see the film. I think the book will provide more of a punch when it comes to thinking about your life and your relationships with people (or with perceptions of people). It really is a marvelous ending, regardless of what my fifteen year old self believed, and I recommend it fully to anyone who’s interested in taking a wonderful road trip without ever leaving their home.