YA Friday: For Fans of Turtles All The Way Down

The movie "Turtles All the Way Down" is now available to stream on Max. Based on John Green's book, which has the same title, the story is about Aza, a darkly beautiful and shy teenager who finds herself in a romantic moment with Davis, a rich and charming young man. However, instead of the anticipated kiss, Aza's worried voice interrupts the scene, expressing her fear of contamination from Davis's bacteria. This fear is a manifestation of her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which dominates her existence. Aza's OCD extends beyond typical germophobia; she believes that because her body is full of microbes, she lacks control over her own self, leading to existential angst.


Despite the heavy burden of Aza's OCD, "Turtles All the Way Down" is also a teenage love story, albeit with darker undertones. Aza's connection with Davis, who is grappling with his own family issues, becomes a central focus of the narrative. The film navigates themes of loss, friendship, and the struggle for control amidst the chaos of adolescence. So, if you enjoyed the movie or book and are looking for other YA fiction that delves into similar themes, please explore the titles below.

If you liked Turtles All The Way Down...

Ariel Crashes A Train, book cover

Ariel Crashes A Train by Olivia A. Cole

Ariel is afraid of her own mind. She already feels like she is too big, too queer, too rough to live up to her parents' exacting expectations, or to fit into what the world expects of a “good girl.” And as violent fantasies she can’t control take over every aspect of her life, she is convinced something much deeper is wrong with her. Ever since her older sister escaped to college, Ariel isn't sure if her careful rituals and practiced distance will be enough to keep those around her safe anymore.

Then a summer job at a carnival brings new friends into Ariel’s fractured world , and she finds herself questioning her desire to keep everyone out—of her head and her heart. But if they knew what she was really thinking, they would run in the other direction—right? Instead, with help and support, Ariel discovers a future where she can be at home in her mind and body, and for the first time learns there’s a name for what she struggles with—Obsessive Compulsive Disorder—and that she’s not broken, and not alone.


Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute, book cover

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He's a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes . . . except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine.

Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption--yet, she's still not cool enough for the popular kids' table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that's how Celine sees it.)

These days, there's nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she's surprised to find Brad right beside her.

Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed . . . or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?


Harley in the Sky, book cover

Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.


Loner, book cover

Loner by Georgina Young

Lona kills her days by sneaking into the dark room at her old art school to develop photographs. She kills her nights DJ-ing the roller disco at Planet Skate. She is inexplicably and debilitatingly in love with a bespectacled Doctor Who-obsessed former classmate and in comfortable, platonic love with her best friend, Tab. Lona works hard to portray a permanent attitude of cynicism and ennui, but will her carefully constructed persona be enough to protect her from the inevitable sorrows and unexpected joys of adult life?


The Edge of Anything, book cover

The Edge of Anything by Nora Shalaway Carpenter

Len is a loner teen photographer haunted by a past that’s stagnated her work and left her terrified she’s losing her mind. Sage is a high school volleyball star desperate to find a way around her sudden medical disqualification. Both girls need college scholarships. After a chance encounter, the two develop an unlikely friendship that enables them to begin facing their inner demons.

But both Len and Sage are keeping secrets that, left hidden, could cost them everything, maybe even their lives.


Whisper to Me, book cover

Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.

Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.


Further Reading

All Our Broken Pieces, book cover
Waiting for Fitz, book cover
The Weight of Our Sky, book cover
History Is All You Left Me, book cover
Every Last Word, book cover
Under Rose-tainted Skies, book cover