Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

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Alaska is Miles’ love interest at Culver Creek. She is smart and loves quoting poetry, but she can also be moody and unpredictable. Alaska loves sex, smoking, drinking, and pulling pranks. She occasionally reciprocates Miles’ romantic, or at least sexual, interest, but also has a boyfriend named Jake. Alaska decides that the biggest question in life is how to “escape the labyrinth of suffering.” When Alaska was young, her mother died in front of her, and Alaska failed to call 911. Alaska dies in a car crash halfway through the novel.

Alaska Young Quotes in Looking for Alaska

The Looking for Alaska quotes below are all either spoken by Alaska Young or refer to Alaska Young. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Speak edition of Looking for Alaska published in 2008.
2. One Hundred Twenty-Eight Days Before Quotes

“That’s the mystery, isn’t it? Is the labyrinth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape—the world or the end of it?”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Miles Halter
Related Symbols: Last Words, The Labyrinth
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

When Alaska and Miles meet and she learns of his love of last words, she tells him about the supposed last words of Simón Bolívar: "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth." Miles is unsure what to make of Bolívar's words, but for Alaska the lack of clarity in Bolívar's quote is what makes it exciting and interesting: is Bolívar describing a desire to escape death, or a desire to escape life?

This interaction makes immediately clear how different Alaska's perspective on life is from Miles's. To Miles, life is a "Great Perhaps" and is full of opportunities that must be seized. He is generally optimistic about the future and very much intends to make the most of his life. Alaska, on the other hand, entertains the possibility that life might be something that needs to be escaped rather than enjoyed. Unlike Miles, who thinks of eventual death as a reason to make the most of your life while you have it, Alaska sees death as a potential way out of all of the suffering in the world. And although Alaska often works hard at making herself seem mysterious to others, the "Great Perhaps" of life, which is so attractive to Miles, is not necessarily attractive to Alaska.

At this point in the novel, Alaska still isn't clear on what she believes, and Bolívar's words themselves are still a "mystery" to her. Later in the novel however, Miles thinks back to this moment when he is trying to figure out how to understand the role Alaska played in her own death. 

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6. One Hundred Ten Days Before Quotes

“Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker)
Related Symbols: Smoking
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Early in the novel, Miles, Takumi, the Colonel, and Alaska go down to the Smoking Hole to talk. Miles asks Alaska why she is smoking so quickly, and she says that she is smoking to slowly kill herself. The chapter ends with Alaska's comment, but presumably everyone who hears it takes it as a dark joke. No one takes the comment entirely seriously because Alaska is constantly setting herself apart from the rest of the group, and always trying to be mysterious and morbid. Even when Alaska is doing the same thing as everyone else, she thinks of her motivations as different. Further, the fact that she jokes about smoking to die shows how flippant her attitude toward death can sometimes be. 

Alaska's comment gains significance when the group learns about Alaska's mother's death. Alaska's mom smoked, and Alaska ties herself to her mother by carrying on this tradition. It would obviously be difficult for Alaska to fully enjoy smoking if every cigarette reminded her of her mother. Alaska feels an immense amount of guilt over her mom's death, and her smoking habit could be seen as a way of punishing herself. After Alaska's death, Miles thinks about this comment and wonders if he should have suspected that Alaska might commit suicide. 

10. One Hundred Days Before Quotes

“Well, later, I found out what it means. It’s from an Aleut word, Alyeska. It means ‘that which the sea breaks against,’ and I love that. But at the time, I just saw Alaska up there. And it was big, like I wanted to be. And it was damn far away from Vine Station, Alabama, just like I wanted to be.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker)
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Miles gets to know Alaska Young better. Alaska is the most complicated character in the novel, and in this passage, we get a sense for her inner complexities. Alaska projects an image of calmness and self-control, but we get the sense that it's just an image: deep down, she's more frightened and lonely than she'd like to be. Alaska explains that she first liked the name "Alaska" because it represented something and far away. One could say that Alaska likes the idea of being far away because she's so mysterious and confident in herself--but it's probably more accurate that she wants to be far away from everyone because she's a lonely, depressed young woman.

The idea that the word Alaska also means "that which the sea breaks against" captures the ambiguity of Alaska's character. Any object that can endure the beating of the waves must be pretty strong--but perhaps the waves will break it down in the end (foreshadowing Alaska's emotional breakdown).

“Jesus, I’m not going to be one of those people who sits around talking about what they’re gonna do. I’m just going to do it. Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia…You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the past.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Labyrinth
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Alaska tells Miles about her plans to teach disabled children one day, but then stops herself halfway through an explanation: she insists that she doesn't want to become one of those people who talks about the future constantly. In Alaska's view, talking about the future is a kind of cop-out: a way of avoiding the present. Alaska also thinks talking about the future is useless, since one's dreams never come true. This is a cynical (and often incorrect) view, of course, but it fits in with Alaska's persona of pessimism and dark humor.

In short, the passage shows us some of Alaska's limitations and weaknesses. She believes that "people" never achieve their dreams, but that's only because she's sure she'll never achieve her dreams. The irony is that in turning away from the future so willingly, Alaska doesn't embrace the present at all; she just "doubles down" on her past. As we'll see more and more clearly, Alaska is haunted by her life before coming to prep school: she's afraid of the future because she's haunted by her own memories.

11. Ninety-Nine Days Before Quotes

“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Eagle catches Alaska and her friends smoking, and tells them that they'll be brought in for questioning (and probable punishment) soon. Miles is worried about being punished, but Alaska insists that there's no point in being worried: in the grand scheme of things, she and her friends will always win out in the end, with their mischievous pranks--the Eagle and his discipline are useless.

Alaska's speech suggests that she's carefree and eager to have fun, even if doing so involves breaking the rules. And yet her pronouncement seems a little too aphoristic, a little too glib. As we'll come to see very clearly, Alaska isn't truly carefree or adventurous: beneath her "manic pixie dream girl" facade she's fragile and frightened of her own past. Mischief isn't a way for her to "win the war"; it's a way for her to distract herself from her deep inner sadness.

29. Two Days Before Quotes

“Best day of my life was January 9, 1997. I was eight years old, and my mom and I went to the zoo on a class trip. I liked the bears. She liked the monkeys. Best day ever. End of story.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Mrs. Young
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Alaska and her friends play a game in which they describe the best day they've ever had, followed by the worst day they've ever had. Alaska explains that the best day of her life involved going to the zoo with her mother. Her story is brief--comically brief, really.

At this point in the book, it's hard to know how to interpret this passage. The brevity of Alaska's story, especially when compared with the unhappy story she's about to tell, suggests that tragedy is more memorable and complex than happiness (as Leo Tolstoy said, happy families are all alike--each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.) But Alaska is also probably withholding the truth about her life; surely there must be more to her happiness. Alaska has been through a lot of tragedy, but here it seems that she's again performing for her friends, trying to provoke their sympathy and confusion whenever she can.

“It was the central moment of Alaska’s life. When she cried and told me that she fucked everything up, I knew what she meant now. And when she said she failed everyone, I know whom she meant. It was the everything and the everyone of her life.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young, Mrs. Young
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

Alaska has just told Miles and her other friends that the worst day of her life was the day her mother died right in front of her and Alaska failed to call 911. Miles comes to realize that Alaska's mother's death is the "key" to understanding Alaska. Alaska has always hated herself for being so passive during her mother's death: if she had just called 911, she feels, she could have saved her mother's life. Now, Miles realizes, Alaska makes a point of acting impulsively and never hesitating, lest she hurt someone else.

Alaska feels like a failure for "allowing" her mother to die (she was a young girl when the accident happened, but she continues to blame herself, anyway). Since then, she always blames herself when something goes wrong, even if that "something" is completely out of her hands. Miles thinks that he's cracked the code with Alaska: he finally understands why she behaves the way she does.

30. One Day Before Quotes

“Pudge, what you must understand about me is that I am a deeply unhappy person.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Miles Halter
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

Alaska and her friends (including Miles) wake up the day after a night of heavy drinking: needless to say, they're all very hungover. Alaska and Miles talk about themselves, and eventually Alaska comes to tell Miles that she's a "deeply unhappy person."

The passage is a great example of the fine line between genuine depression and performative sadness: that which is affected or exaggerated for the purpose of confounding other people. Alaska has dealt with some genuinely tragic events, especially the death of her mother. And yet there's always a sense that she tries to be as mysterious and elusive as possible in order to draw the interest of other people. Here, however, she makes a point of saying that she's "deeply unhappy" to Miles: an oddly matter-of-fact way of talking about her feelings, and a departure from her usual cryptic statements.

31. The Last Day Quotes

“This is so fun…but I’m so sleepy. To be continued?”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Miles Halter
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

in this rather climactic scene, Alaska "dares" Miles to kiss her, knowing full-well that Miles is in love with her. Alaska kisses Miles, and even lectures him on how to kiss better. Miles is in a quasi-relationship with Lara at the moment, but he's so much more in love with Alaska that kissing her is practically the defining event of his life so far.

Green conveys the "asymmetry" of Alaska and Miles's relationship. Miles is deeply attracted to Alaska, and while Alaska knows this full-well, she seems not to feel quite the same level of attraction for Miles. Abruptly, she tells Miles that she's feeling tired, and needs to go to bed. The matter-of-fact way she opts out of the make-out session is, as always with Alaska, intended to be both disarming and confusing: she's always cultivating an aura of mystery and unpredictability. The passage is also a good example of tragic foreshadowing: Alaska is going to die soon, and so Miles and Alaska's relationship will never actually "continue"--thus this otherwise normal moment of teen drama takes on tragic proportions, and Alaska's ambiguous words become her last words to Miles.

“We left.
We did not say: Don’t drive. You’re drunk.
We did not say: We aren’t letting you in that car when you are upset.
We did not say: We insist on going with you.
We did not say: This can wait until tomorrow. Anything—everything—can wait.

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Chip Martin (The Colonel), Alaska Young
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

In one of the central scenes in the novel, Miles and his friend the Colonel watch passively as Alaska, drunk and sad, gets off the phone, crying loudly, and rushes toward her car. Although it's pretty obvious that Alaska is in no condition to drive, Miles and the Colonel allow her to leave. Alaska will eventually die in a car crash (perhaps accidentally, perhaps on purpose), leaving Miles to blame himself for her death. in this passage, Miles lists all the things he did wrong that night: he could have stopped Alaska and prevented her from getting behind the wheel of a car, but instead he just left her alone.

Why does Miles leave Alaska alone? To begin with, he's intimidated by her. Alaska has cultivated an aura of mystery and impregnability: nobody is brave enough to tell her the truth because she's always acting spontaneous. Thus, it's possible for Miles to construe Alaska's behavior that night as "Alaska being Alaska." Moreover, Miles seems to allow Alaska to go off alone because he's just had an odd romantic encounter with her: he feels so overwhelmed and confused (and he's drunk as well) that he doesn't know what he'd say to her, and is almost afraid to confront her and make her angry with him. It's important to notice the major turning point in the novel: the first half of the book is dominated by Alaska's guilt for allowing her mother to die, while the second half of the book is dominated by Miles's guilt at having played a role in Alaska's death.

32. The Day After Quotes

“I could hear the Colonel screaming, and I could feel hands on my back as I hunched forward, but I could only see her lying naked on a metal table, a small trickle of blood falling out of her half-teardrop nose, her green eyes open, staring off into the distance, her mouth turned up just enough to suggest the idea of a smile, and she had felt so warm against me, her mouth so soft and warm on mine.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Chip Martin (The Colonel), Alaska Young
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Miles has learned of Alaska's death. At first, he can't believe that someone who he knew and loved--someone with whom he exchanged a kiss only the night before--could suddenly be dead. And yet eventually, the thought of Alaska's corpse becomes inescapable: he pictures her body in the morgue, the contrast between her warmth and beauty while alive and her appearance in death perfectly clear.

Previously, Miles has suggested that people can't bear to think about their loved ones as mere bodies--a body must have a soul, too. And yet here, in his moment of panic, Miles can only think of Alaska's dead body. The passage conveys a sense of Miles's trauma and guilt: just as Alaska was singularly fixated on her mother's untimely death, Miles is now totally fixated on Alaska's dead body. He blames himself for her death, and so he can't stop thinking about her.

“I know so many last words. But I will never know hers.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

Miles, we've known for some time now, is obsessed with people's last words. As an immature young man, Miles enjoyed the concept of dying words because it suggested a "fast ticket" to fame: he thought that by studying people's last words, he could know something about what made them so great--what the secret of being remembered was. Now that Miles has experienced the death of a loved one, he's not so glib about the concept of death or dying words. Alaska is dead, and he's no longer thinking about himself at all: he's fixated on her memory.

The passage also reinforces the idea that it's impossible to know people completely. Previously, Miles thought that he had Alaska "figured out." Miles's error is clear, symbolized by the fact that he'll never know Alaska's last words (and, by extension, he'll never know if she killed herself or just had an accident, what she was thinking of just before she died, what kind of person she really was on the inside, etc.). There's a limit to how much we can know about one another, especially when we make an effort to surround ourselves in mystery (as Alaska did).

33. Two Days After Quotes

“And now she was colder by the hour, more dead with every breath I took. I thought: That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

After Alaska is killed in a car accident, Miles doesn't know what to do: he feels as if he'l be unable to go on living without his beloved friend. Miles chooses an interesting metaphor; living without Alaska is like needing glasses and not having them--and not having any way to ever get them again. The metaphor is instructive, because it suggests that Alaska helped Miles see and understand the world more clearly. In reality, as we've seen, Alaska created smoke and mirrors around herself, disguising her real thoughts and feelings. And yet she also helped Miles come to terms with his own feelings about himself and other people. The passage sets the tone for the second half of the novel: Miles will have to struggle with his own guilt and trauma in order to gain a semblance of control over the way he feels.

“Goddamn it! God, how did this happen? How could she be so stupid! She just never thought anything through. So goddamned impulsive. Christ. It is not okay. I can’t believe she was so stupid!”

Related Characters: Chip Martin (The Colonel) (speaker), Alaska Young
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

In times of crisis, everybody has different ways of coping. Miles chooses to blame himself almost immediately, while the Colonel chooses to throw all the blame back on Alaska herself: he claims that she was stupid and foolish, and that she caused her own death (claims that seem harsh, but are also partly true).

The Colonel copes with death by ignoring his own sense of guilt. Deep down, as we'll see soon, the Colonel knows that he's partly responsible for Alaska's tragic death: if he had just stopped her from getting in the car, she would still be alive. Instead of facing his feelings, the Colonel tries to bury them away with rage and frustration. Although he's usually a fairly calm person, the Colonel's emotions are clear in this passage: he has a lot of emotion to bury.

56. One Hundred Eighteen Days After Quotes

“So we gave up. I’d finally had enough of chasing after a ghost who did not want to be discovered. We’d failed, maybe, but some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved. I still did not know her as I wanted to, but I never could. She made it impossible for me.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

For much of the second half of the novel, Miles and his friends try to answer the question of why Alaska drove off in the car the night that she died. Eventually, they think they've come to a "solution": Alaska had forgotten the anniversary of her mother's death, and was driving off to put flowers on her mother's gravestone. Although Miles gets some satisfaction from this information (since it partly explains what happened that night), he also realizes that some mysteries aren't meant to be solved.

As a less mature young man, Miles had believed that he could understand what makes people tick by focusing on a single moment from their lives, or a single quote. After Alaska's death, Miles comes to realize the opposite: there's no "key" to understanding people's complexity: certain mysteries are impossible to solve. Miles could never truly understand what happened to Alaska the night she died: she'll always be a great mystery to him.

“But we knew what could be found out, and in finding it out, she had made us closer—the Colonel and Takumi and me, anyway. And that was it. She didn’t leave me enough to discover her, but she left me enough to rediscover the Great Perhaps.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Chip Martin (The Colonel), Alaska Young
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

Miles learns a lot after Alaska's death, and in a way, Alaska's death brings him closer to his friends, especially the Colonel and Takumi. Although Miles and his friends are trying to answer the question of why Alaska drove off into the night, they come to realize that the question is irrelevant and ultimately impossible to answer thoroughly. As in so many books about mysteries and quests, the journey (Miles bonding with his friends) is more important than the destination (solving the mystery of why Alaska died).

Miles has always had a theory of the "Great Perhaps"--the sense of wonder and unknowability that dominates a young person's life. And yet Miles has changed his theory slightly: previously, he thought that the purpose of the Great Perhaps was to solve mysteries and answer questions about the world. Now, he's come to realize that there are certain mysteries that can't, and shouldn't be, solved: "Perhaps" is better than certainty.

“And POOF we are driving through the moment of her death. We are driving through the place that she could not drive through, passing onto asphalt she never saw, and we are not dead. We are not dead! We are breathing and we are crying and now slowing down and moving back into the right lane.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Chip Martin (The Colonel), Alaska Young
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

In this climactic scene, Miles and the Colonel finally get over Alaska's death, at least a little, when they decide to drive over the place where Alaska died. As they drive they begin to cry and get emotional, for the simple reason that they're alive and Alaska is dead--they've passed through the place where she could not.

While they are overcome with grief at Alaska's death, Miles and the Colonel also seem to achieve a sudden clarity regarding the fact that they are alive. This is part of the tragedy of Alaska's death--that she too was once as alive and breathing as they are now--but it's also a way for Miles to move on. By acknowledging his own life he can better seize the present and live fully, without being so weighed down by memory and guilt.

59. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days After Quotes

“He was gone, and I did not have time to tell him what I had just now realized: that I forgave him, and that she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young, Takumi Hikohito
Related Symbols: The Labyrinth
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Miles realizes that he's ready to forgive his old friend Takumi. Takumi has been angry with Miles ever since Alaska's death: he blames Miles for Alaska's death (partly as a way of distracting himself from his own role in Alaska's death). Miles realizes that there's no point in blaming other people: the only way out of the cycle of self-hatred that arises after a loved one's death is to accept blame, forgive other people, and slowly move on. And yet Miles's forgiveness is incomplete: he never gets to forgive Takumi face-to-face.

Perhaps the scene is supposed to symbolize the flawed nature of life: people can't always be honest with one another and open up about their feelings, even if they want to show love for each other. There are always layers dividing people, whether layers of distance, miscommunication, or any other number of things. But even if Miles can't forgive Takumi in person, he can love and forgive himself.

“I would never know her well enough to know her thoughts in those last minutes, would never know if she left us on purpose. But the not-knowing would not keep me from caring, and I would always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor, with all my crooked heart.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

Miles has learned to embrace uncertainty: a Zen-like way of looking at life that parallels some of his earlier observations about the nature of religion. As a younger man, Miles believed that it was possible to "decode" human beings: hence his fondness for famous last words. Now, however, Miles seems to accept that people can't be decoded: Alaska, for all her beauty and fascination, is just too complicated and elusive to ever be properly understood.

The paradox of Miles's epiphany is that it's possible to love someone without understanding them completely. Instead of loving Alaska's "soul," Miles loves Alaska as he knew her; the image of herself that she presented to him. By accepting the limits of his knowledge of Alaska, Miles seems to accept the limits of his knowledge of Alaska's death: he'll never know if her death was accident or suicide. By the same token, Miles seems to escape his own sense of guilt.

“Forgetting her mother, failing her mother and her friends and herself—those are awful things, but she did not need to fold into herself and self-destruct. Those awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young, Mrs. Young
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

In the end, the novel is a kind of cautionary tale, but also a tale of redemption. We all have to deal with pain and grief, but we don't all deal with it in a healthy way. Some, like Alaska, will collapse under the pressure: Alaska hates herself because she believes that she's to blame for her mother's tragic death. As a result of her guilt, Alaska has spent most of her life hiding from other people and dissembling her true feelings.

Miles, on the other hand, is a symbol of how it's possible to escape grief and love oneself. Miles knows that he's responsible for Alaska's death in some capacity, but he finds the courage to forgive himself. In a way, Green steers the novel toward an optimistic, youthful conclusion: teenagers really are invincible--with their hope and drive, they can find the courage to escape from depression, especially if they have the love and support of their friends.

“So I know she forgives me, just as I forgive her. Thomas Edison’s last words were: “It’s very beautiful over there.” I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel has dealt with religious themes, but in the final lines of the novel, Green brings religion to the center of the stage. Miles is trying to come to terms with his own feelings of grief regarding the death of his friend Alaska. He's come to accept that while he played a role in Alaska's death, he forgives himself, and knows that Alaska forgives him, too. Furthermore, Miles here seems to allude to the concept of a Heaven. As with earthly matters, though, Miles doesn't profess to know what happens to human beings after they die. Nevertheless, he continues to hope that somewhere in another life, Alaska is happy and content.

In short, the novel ends on a note of blind, beautiful hope. Miles is still a young man, but he's learned how to take care of himself and show his love for other people. Thus, he hopes that Alaska finds happiness somewhere, even after her death.

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Alaska Young Character Timeline in Looking for Alaska

The timeline below shows where the character Alaska Young appears in Looking for Alaska. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. One Hundred Twenty-Eight Days Before
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...he should call him “the Colonel” instead of Chip. Then he takes Miles to meet Alaska, who has a single room because her roommate was recently expelled. When Miles sees Alaska,... (full context)
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
After buying cigarettes from Alaska, the Colonel and Miles go down to the lake and Miles smokes for the first... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
...reason for smoking, so it might as well be that it will keep bugs away. Alaska shows up and she introduces Miles to the last words of Simón Bolívar, as recounted... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Miles doesn’t know how to respond, so he asks Alaska about the books in her room. She says that this is her Life’s Library. She... (full context)
3. One Hundred Twenty-Seven Days Before
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
The next morning Miles asks the Colonel about Alaska’s boyfriend. The Colonel says that she must like him, because he’s the first boyfriend she... (full context)
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
At lunch the other students discuss Marya, Alaska’s former roommate, and her boyfriend Paul, both of whom were expelled for drinking, smoking marijuana,... (full context)
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
...eventually wiggles back to shore and out of his duct tape. He goes to see Alaska, and she tells him that some people have more serious problems to worry about than... (full context)
4. One Hundred Twenty-Six Days Before
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
...French class and worries that his school in Florida didn’t prepare him for Culver Creek. Alaska ignores him, and Miles feels conflicted about his feelings toward her. She is smart and... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...most important pursuit in history: the search for meaning.” This phrase makes Miles think of Alaska’s labyrinth. Miles likes the Old Man and looks forward to being taught and lectured to... (full context)
5. One Hundred Twenty-Two Days Before
Identity Theme Icon
...for his dinner with Sara and her family. He tells Miles that when he asked Alaska for help, she accused him of imposing the “patriarchal paradigm” on her and refused. Miles... (full context)
6. One Hundred Ten Days Before
Memory and Memorial Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
...thinking about religion, but just looking away, Dr. Hyde kicks him out of the room. Alaska stand up and leaves with him. She tells Dr. Hyde that he is being unfair,... (full context)
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Alaska is angry at the Colonel and Takumi for not leaving with her and Miles, but... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
Alaska tells Miles that she wants to kiss him but she can’t because she has a... (full context)
7. One Hundred Nine Days Before
Memory and Memorial Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...is the star basketball player. The Colonel describes Walston as loving weed as much as Alaska loves sex. Walston is only the star player because the rest of the team is... (full context)
9. One Hundred One Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
A week later, Alaska drives a group of people to McDonalds to study. A girl named Lara has to... (full context)
10. One Hundred Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Miles asks Alaska about her name. She explains that when she was born, her parents couldn’t decide on... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Alaska talks to Miles about how difficult it’s going to be to get out of her... (full context)
11. Ninety-Nine Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
Miles, the Colonel, Takumi, and Alaska go down to the lake to smoke. The Eagle happens to be by the lake... (full context)
12. Ninety-Eight Days Before
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
Miles, the Colonel, Takumi, and Alaska go to see the Jury, which is a group of twelve students who determine punishments... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Alaska and the Colonel take the fall for smoking and keep Miles and Takumi out of... (full context)
13. Eighty-Nine Da ys Before
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Days later Miles is still confused by what happened at the Jury, but then Alaska tells him that she has found him a girlfriend: Lara. The Colonel says that Lara... (full context)
14. Eighty-Seven Days Before
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Alaska introduces Jake to Miles and Jake jokes that he hopes Miles and Lara get along... (full context)
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...that Sara broke up with him because she thought that he had hooked up with Alaska. Alaska heard Sara say this, and became furious with her for breaking “the sacred covenant... (full context)
15. Eighty-Four Days Before
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...rains for days in Birmingham, and no one socializes. Miles tries to eat dinner with Alaska, but she tells him she doesn’t feel like answering anything that begins with “how, when,... (full context)
16. Seventy-Six Days Before
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...Colonel plans to write about why bad things happen to good people. They run into Alaska on their way back to their dorms, who is furious because the Weekday Warriors have... (full context)
17. Sixty-Seven Days Before
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...takes Miles to another spot in the forest where they smoke. He tells Miles that Alaska was the one who told on Marya, and that she might have told the Eagle... (full context)
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...he figured out that no one could have known where Marya was that night except Alaska. He points out that it was actually smart of Alaska to tell on one of... (full context)
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Takumi tells Miles that the Colonel and Alaska are planning a prank, and Miles will need to be prepared to take the fall... (full context)
18. Fifty-Eight Days Before
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A week later, Alaska herself tells Miles that she ratted out Marya. Miles is very attracted to Alaska, but... (full context)
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Later that day, the Colonel warns Miles not to go after Alaska over the break because of the drama that would ensue if she cheated on Jake.... (full context)
19. Fifty-Two Days Before
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Everyone leaves for the break. Alaska takes Miles down to a spot in the forest and tells him to start digging.... (full context)
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Alaska and Miles lie in the grass reading, and Miles considers telling Alaska that he loves... (full context)
20. Fifty-One Days Before
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Alaska wakes Miles up the next morning so that he can accompany her in going into... (full context)
21. Forty-Nine Days Before
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Alaska decides that she and Miles should go “porn hunting” in their fellow students’ rooms. Alaska... (full context)
22. Forty-Seven Days Before
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A few days later, Miles goes to see Alaska, and when he gets to her room, she is melting down a candle. Miles tells... (full context)
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The Colonel shows up unexpectedly and invites Miles and Alaska to come back to his house for dinner. As they drive to his town, the... (full context)
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Alaska helps the Colonel’s mom, Dolores, cook dinner, while Miles and the Colonel play video games.... (full context)
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Dolores insists that Alaska and Miles sleep in the bed, while she sleeps on the couch and the Colonel... (full context)
23. Forty-Six Days Before
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...says that he’s grateful for the food, company, and having a place to spend Thanksgiving. Alaska says that this is her best Thanksgiving in the past ten years. The Colonel says... (full context)
24. Forty-Four Days Before
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Miles and Alaska go to Coosa Liquors, where Alaska buys her alcohol and cigarettes. Getting cigarettes is easy,... (full context)
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Later that day Alaska shows up crying at Miles’ door. She asks Miles why she messes everything up, but... (full context)
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When the Colonel found out that Alaska was the one who told, he said to her that he could never trust her... (full context)
25. Christmas
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Everyone goes home for Christmas break—even Alaska. Miles spends most of the break studying for his exams, which start the day after... (full context)
26. Eight Days Before
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Everyone returns to campus. Alaska suggests that they need to time an attack on Kevin with a “pre-prank” that will... (full context)
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Miles is annoyed at Alaska for leaving him out. It’s happened before, but Miles thought that it would be different... (full context)
27. Four Days Before
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Miles doesn’t have any details about the prank, and the Colonel and Alaska ignore him all week long. Miles uses the time to work on his religion paper.... (full context)
28. Three Days Before
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...worth of black clothing for the weekend in the barn and he, the Colonel, Takumi, Alaska, and Lara present the Eagle with a variety of reasons that they need to leave... (full context)
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...to put blue dye into Kevin’s conditioner and hair gel. The Colonel is mad at Alaska because she decided to send progress reports to the parents of twenty more Weekday Warriors... (full context)
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The Colonel doesn’t believe Alaska because she ratted on Marya, and he also points out the improbability of the idea... (full context)
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The group talks about how angry Kevin is going to be, and Alaska says that he deserves it. Miles, on the other hand, doesn’t really hate Kevin anymore.... (full context)
29. Two Days Before
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...day, the group spends the morning hanging out and rapping. They eventually start drinking, and Alaska decides that they are going to play a drinking game she has just made up... (full context)
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...Lara is happy that Miles thinks she’s pretty but reminds him that she is Romanian. Alaska says her story will beat Miles’ answer: on January 9, 1997, she and her mom... (full context)
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Alaska’s worst day was the day after her best day. She came home from school and... (full context)
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The group is stunned because no one knew that Alaska’s mother was dead. Alaska talks about how her dad blames her for her mother’s death,... (full context)
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Miles now understands that this “was the central moment of Alaska’s life.” He understands why she cried over Thanksgiving break about messing everything up. He realizes... (full context)
30. One Day Before
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Everyone wakes up hung-over the next morning, but Alaska is particularly sick. Miles suggests that she should drink less, and she tells him that... (full context)
31. The Last Day
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...neither of them know what she’s supposed to do. They end up having to ask Alaska for help, who demonstrates in great detail what Lara should be doing. Miles and Lara... (full context)
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That night, Alaska and the Colonel get drunk to celebrate the success of their prank. There are white... (full context)
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When the Colonel drunkenly realizes that Miles hooked up with Alaska, he tells Miles that things are not going to end well. Miles falls asleep and... (full context)
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The Colonel and Miles don’t understand why Alaska is so upset. She keeps saying that she forgot something and she messed everything up.... (full context)
32. The Day After
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...Miles prays that he won’t be expelled so that he has more time to kiss Alaska. The Eagle tells them that they are not in trouble, but that they need to... (full context)
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...suspicion is confirmed. Miles is sad about Dr. Hyde, but can’t stop thinking about what Alaska’s words “To be continued?” might mean. Then Dr. Hyde walks in, and the Colonel realizes... (full context)
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The Eagle finally tells everyone that overnight, Alaska died in a car crash. The room falls silent. Miles runs out of the gym... (full context)
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Miles tells the Eagle that Alaska is just playing a prank on everyone. The Eagle explains to him that he saw... (full context)
33. Two Days After
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Miles calls his parents and tells them about the car crash. They pity Alaska’s parents and Miles realizes that only her dad is left. Miles gets off the phone... (full context)
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...the cigarette light. The Colonel throws the cigarette and screams about how impulsive and irresponsible Alaska was. Miles tells him that it’s their fault that she’s dead, and the Colonel agrees,... (full context)
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Miles wonders if an instantaneous death feels instantaneous to the person dying. Did Alaska think about him before she died? Miles guesses that she was probably driving up to... (full context)
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...the day, but he turns and walks away. That night Miles has horrible dreams about Alaska’s mouth oozing with dead flesh and formaldehyde. When he wakes up, the Colonel still hasn’t... (full context)
34. Four Days After
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...he memorized the populations of every country. The Colonel says that he can’t remember what Alaska looked like, and he and Miles find her picture in the yearbook. He complains to... (full context)
35. Six Days After
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On the way to Alaska’s funeral, Miles feels so much pain that he physically hurts. He loves Alaska and she... (full context)
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At the funeral Alaska’s casket is closed, and Miles realizes that he will never see her again. When he... (full context)
36. Seven Days After
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...with the Eagle, who asked him if he was responsible for setting off the fireworks. Alaska’s aunt is coming to pick up her things, so Miles and the Colonel have to... (full context)
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Miles takes Alaska’s condoms and the Colonel looks for her alcohol stash. Miles is happy to realize that... (full context)
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...labyrinth. The note is in blue ink instead of black, and is completely legible, so Alaska must have written it recently. (full context)
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Miles shows the note to the Colonel, who realizes that Alaska died “straight and fast.” She ran straight into a police car without even swerving. They... (full context)
37. Eight Days After
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School starts back up and Dr. Hyde decides to write Alaska’s exam question—How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering—on the board, and... (full context)
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The Colonel hates the way the other students pretend like they were close to Alaska, but Miles isn’t bothered by it, because he realizes he doesn’t know her as well... (full context)
38. Nine Days After
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The Colonel theorizes that maybe Alaska got a call from Jake and realized that she needed to see him immediately, but... (full context)
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The Colonel responds that he wants to know because Alaska made him “her accomplice,” and he’s furious with her for driving a wedge between himself... (full context)
39. Thirteen Days After
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...Colonel walk to the Pelham Police Department to talk to the police officer whose car Alaska hit. The Colonel smokes in front of the officer even though he’s underage. The officer... (full context)
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...sure, but he can’t imagine someone not being able to swerve. He tells them that Alaska’s blood alcohol level was .24, which is very high. They ask him if there was... (full context)
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The Colonel tells Miles about a time last year when he and Takumi and Alaska were at the Smoking Hole and Alaska jumped into the river to pick up a... (full context)
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...and says that whatever they find out, they are no less guilty, and learning that Alaska meant to kill herself just turns her into “a selfish bitch.” The Colonel reminds Miles... (full context)
40. Fourteen Days After
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The Colonel and Miles research the signs of suicide, most of which Alaska never exhibited. She did, however, fit some of them: she had lost a loved one... (full context)
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Miles says that looking for answers is only making him hate Alaska. He thinks to himself that she is still refusing to answer his questions and still... (full context)
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...student named Holly Moser interrupts them to say that she had received a message from Alaska. She tells them that when she was at the Waffle House near campus, the lights... (full context)
41. Twenty Days After
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...out without him, and Miles yells back that he doesn’t want to know anything about Alaska and Jake. He asks the Colonel to give him his cigarettes, but instead the Colonel... (full context)
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...condescending, and also mad that the Colonel is right. Miles knows that he does wish Alaska had left Jake to be with him. He wants “to be the last one she... (full context)
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Miles wonders if he should hope that he can forget Alaska and not have to think about her every day. He thinks to himself that she... (full context)
42. Twenty-One Days After
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...them to heaven. Miles hasn’t read the story, because he has studied very little since Alaska’s death. He likes the story, but the afterlife is still important to him and he... (full context)
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...accident—something he’s done so that Takumi won’t know he is responsible for what happened to Alaska. Takumi asks Miles if he’s dating Lara anymore, because she had been wondering. Miles says... (full context)
43. Twenty-Seven Days After
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Four weeks after Alaska’s death, the Colonel decides that that he and Miles should steal the Eagle’s Breathalyzer and... (full context)
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...really struggling with Latin because he’s so grief-stricken. The Eagle tells Miles that he’s certain Alaska would have wanted the Colonel to do well in school. He also asks Miles if... (full context)
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...reach a .24 blood alcohol level so that he and Miles can figure out what Alaska would have been capable of doing in that state. They hear footsteps coming down the... (full context)
44. Twenty-Eight Days After
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Miles and the Colonel tell Takumi about how they helped Alaska leave, and he says they were stupid but he isn’t angry at them. The Colonel... (full context)
45. Twenty-Nine Days After
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While the Colonel calls Jake, Takumi accuses Miles of hoping to find out that Alaska was on her way to break up with Jake so that she could come back... (full context)
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The Colonel comes back and tells them that Jake called Alaska late that night because she wanted to talk to him at their exact anniversary, down... (full context)
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Miles and the Colonel try to remember the conversation they had with Alaska on her last night, but the Colonel was drunk and Miles wasn’t paying attention for... (full context)
46. Thirty-Seven Days After
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...Lara and he apologizes. This is the first time they’ve spoken since the days after Alaska’s death, and Lara runs away without responding. Miles feels horrible about how he’s treated her,... (full context)
47. Forty-Five Days After
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...she’s sorry about it. Miles thinks that it’s when life starts to feel normal that Alaska’s death hits everyone the hardest, because that’s when they miss her the most. (full context)
48. Forty-Six Days After
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Takumi guilt trips Miles into talking to Lara by asking how Miles thinks Alaska would react to the fact that he has completely ignored Lara. Miles isn’t sure about... (full context)
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...to the lake. He tells her as much as he can about what happened on Alaska’s last night and what he and the Colonel have learned since. He explains to her... (full context)
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...into the Smoking Hole, which is actually more like a fishing hole, in memory of Alaska. Miles likes that this feels like a ritual because he likes “the idea of connecting... (full context)
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The group works on making a list of the evidence for and against Alaska’s suicide. They decide that the white flowers were not in Alaska’s car as a way... (full context)
49. Fifty-One Days After
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...to the Buddhist idea that everything will eventually fall apart. He relates this theory to Alaska’s question, which is still written on the board. (full context)
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Miles likes the idea that someday no one in the world will remember Alaska. She has started to slip out of his memory, and he considers this to be... (full context)
50. Sixty-Two Days After
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...his parents to tell them that he hasn’t been doing well in school because of Alaska’s death. As he talks, he looks at the notes written around the payphone and notices... (full context)
51. Sixty-Nine Days After
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...an assembly, where the Eagle announces that they are going to build a playground in Alaska’s honor. This does not strike Miles as something Alaska would have particularly liked, and Lara... (full context)
52. Eighty-Three Days After
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...time working on the prank so that he won’t have to feel like he’s failed Alaska again. As long as they are able to find a stripper—and convince Miles’ dad to... (full context)
54. One Hundred Two Days After
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...it is certainly important to subvert the patriarchal paradigm.” Then he shouts, “This one’s for Alaska Young.” Takumi puts on music and Maxx strips and dances in front of the entire... (full context)
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...prank, and Miles tells everyone that it wasn’t him or the Colonel or Takumi, but Alaska. Alaska once told Miles that the worst part of pulling a prank was that you... (full context)
55. One Hundred Fourteen Days After
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...Takumi suggests that the date January 10 might be significant. To Miles, it’s the day Alaska died, but Takumi reminds him that Alaska’s best day of her life—the day at the... (full context)
56. One Hundred Eighteen Days After
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...mysteries aren’t meant to be solved.” Miles isn’t sure if he should be angry at Alaska for making him an accomplice or angry with himself for letting her leave. Miles realizes... (full context)
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...decide that the last thing they need to do before they can let go of Alaska is to drive past the place where she died. As they drive, Miles says, “Sometimes... (full context)
57. One Hundred Nineteen Days After
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The group spends the next few days cramming for exams, and all of them miss Alaska because she used to be so good at teaching them precalculus. When they run out... (full context)
58. One Hundred Twenty-Two Days After
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...the class. Each person must write about how he or she will get out of Alaska’s labyrinth. He tells them that they don’t need to do any research, and that he... (full context)
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...Colonel says that he has no idea. Miles responds that that’s not going to help Alaska much, and the Colonel realizes that he had forgotten about her. The Colonel decides that... (full context)
59. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days After
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...apologizes for being mad at him all semester. He explains to Miles that he saw Alaska on the night that she died. She told Takumi that it was the anniversary of... (full context)
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...already gone. In that moment, Miles realizes that forgiveness is the way out, and that Alaska forgave them and he forgives everyone else. He finally accepts that he will never know... (full context)
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...avoided the labyrinth by pretending it didn’t exist. He and the Colonel messed up with Alaska just like Alaska messed up with her mom, but while Alaska let that mistake ruin... (full context)
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Miles writes that eventually he will forget Alaska, but he knows that she will forgive him for that. In turn he forgives Alaska... (full context)
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Miles knows that matter cannot be truly destroyed, and he believes that Alaska’s energy works the same way. He has hope because he believes that people are indestructible,... (full context)