Mental Health in John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down

  • Khadeeja Saeed Ismail College of Education / Salahaddin University-Erbil
  • Juan Abdullah Ibrahim College of Languages / Salahaddin University-Erbil
Keywords: mental health, Turtles All the Way Down, young adult literature, Aza


Mental health and illness have been tackled and theorized over centuries in various cultures. Mental health possesses a complex history in being used for various causes and perceptions due to the needs of a certain group of people. Characters who develop mental illness, in classic novels, usually go crazy, or they are neglected, they die and things turn to be well for the other sane characters, or even they commit suicide. The trope of dismissing characters with mental health issues is unnerving in classic literature. Thereby, it was not possible for characters suffering from mental illness to be any type of hero since they were frequently killed off or called villainous.

The depiction of mental health experiences in recent literature is realistic. People with mental illness can be the main characters or even the heroes of the story. They are aware of their mental illnesses and they upraise an admirable struggle against them. Though some characters die at the end of the stories, most of them find some happiness and become hopeful by the story’s conclusion. Mentally ill characters make progress and overcome their anxiety since they are accepted by their families, friends or societies. It is unnecessary for the characters to be cured or live without struggles, or even survive the tale.

John Michael Green (1977, Indianapolis), is an American author and YouTube content creator, whose rapid rise to fame is due to ushering in a new era for contemporary, realistic, literary teen fiction. He sketched human health intelligently in his novels.  The publication of Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (2017) demonstrates the degree of the evolvement in literature. The young adult novel is one of the books that depict characters with mental health issues in a realistic and hopeful way. The significance of the book is due to its celebration of real-life arguments concerning a previously overlooked matter. The researchers attempt to prove that the mentally ill hero of the story is open about her illness and she puts up a fight against it instead of escaping from it. They show how the hero is portrayed in a realistic and cheerful way through depicting certain scenes in which the character tries to treat her illness and overcome it.   

Author Biography

Khadeeja Saeed Ismail, College of Education / Salahaddin University-Erbil

College of Education

English Departtment


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How to Cite
Ismail K, Ibrahim J. Mental Health in John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down. JAHS [Internet]. 16Jun.2021 [cited 29Jul.2021];25(3):173 -182. Available from:

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