Just a couple of days ago, I finished reading "Looking for Alaska" by John Green (the Wikipedia article has a good synopsis). I got the book from the library and finished it just in time, one day before it was due, so that I could take some notes before returning it.
My first impression when reading the first few chapters was surprise at how much smoking and drinking was going on at the school. It didn't make sense to me why Pudge would start with it, it seemed to me his friends wouldn't have minded if he had said no thanks. There was no strong peer pressure and he seemed to know that it's not good for you. I was shocked at the prank in the beginning, I mean, he could have drowned. That was a severe case of bullying. Lots of things like that seemed to be going on at the school, drinking, smoking, dangerous pranks, etc., but the teachers didn't care much, they rarely "found out", even though there was so much evidence. And the parents didn't seem to care, either. I was really baffeled by that. Anyway, the main story was still interesting, the before part where Pudge gets to know Alaska and his other new friends at this school, and the after part where they're trying to figure out what was really going on that night with Alaska. The religion class was a nice way to weave in some philosophical questions into the story.
I read in the Wikipedia article about the book that the book has been challenged at a high school for content dealing with sexually explicit situations. That's pretty ridiculous considering all the other things that are going on in that story. Although I wasn't interested in such things at that age, the sexual thoughts and actions seemed the most comprehensible to me compared to the prevalence of drinking, the severeness of some of the "pranks" etc.
So I kind of enjoyed the book even though I might not have ordinarily chosen to read it. I read it for the BC in DC book club. I hope I'll make it to the meeting next week.
(50 books in 2010 cout: 42).