Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

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A junior in high school and the main character and narrator of the novel. He moves to the Culver Creek boarding school in Birmingham, AL from his home in Florida, where he is a good student but has few friends. He decides to leave home “to seek a Great Perhaps” and has a penchant for memorizing famous people’s last words. Miles is very gangly, so his friends at Culver Creek nickname him “Pudge.” Over time, Miles transforms into a confident, risk-taking person with a great capacity for forgiveness and introspection.

Miles Halter Quotes in Looking for Alaska

The Looking for Alaska quotes below are all either spoken by Miles Halter or refer to Miles Halter . 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.
1. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days Before Quotes

“François Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker)
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of the novel, Miles explains to his parents why he wants to leave Florida and attend Culver Creek. In Florida, Miles' life is entirely predictable, and he is drawn to the idea of going somewhere where anything could happen. Miles loves learning other people's last words and often uses them as guidance for how to live his own life. Here, Miles' takes Rabelais' last words, which refer to the mystery of death, and reinterprets them as inspiration for his life. He doesn't want death to be his "Great Perhaps"; instead, he wants to start seeking adventure now, in life.

Much of Looking for Alaska is about Miles' struggle to make sense of the mysteries of life and death, and this quote helps set up that struggle. While Miles is clearly drawn to these mysteries at the beginning of the book, when his life actually becomes mysterious he has trouble accepting the unknown. This statement also demonstrates how invincible Miles feels early on in the novel. At this point, death is something to "wait" for that will happen far into the future--not something that might happen at any moment. 

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2. One Hundred Twenty-Eight Days Before Quotes

“Anyway, when you get in trouble, just don’t tell on anyone. I mean, I hate the rich snots here with a fervent passion I usually reserve only for dental work and my father. But that doesn’t mean I would rat them out. Pretty much the only important thing is never never never never rat.”

Related Characters: Chip Martin (The Colonel) (speaker), Miles Halter
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we learn about the key rule of life in Miles's new prep school: never rat on another student (AKA, the "schoolboy code"). The Colonel tells Miles, who's new at school, to always remain loyal to other students over the administration--even if the breaking this "loyalty" could result in the expulsion of people neither the Colonel nor Miles likes.

Why is it so important not to rat on your classmates at prep school? While Green doesn't answer the question, he implies that the honor code is important because it creates a bond of trust and loyalty between all students, even those who don't like each other. Miles and Colonel will argue and compete with their peers (the "Weekend Warriors"), and yet they'll also feel a bond of brotherhood with their enemies in the face of a larger authority.

“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. 

29. Two Days Before Quotes

“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

“But a lot of times, people die how they live. And so last words tell me a lot about who people were, and why they became the sort of people biographies get written about.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker)
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Lara asks Miles (with whom she's having a strange sexual relationship) why he's so interested in famous people's last words. Here, Miles gives a reason: he thinks that it's possible to learn something deeply important about a famous person (and about life itself) by studying the last thing they say, or are rumored to have said. Famous last words, in a sense, are never random: they're always deeply revealing of the way a person lived.

It's characteristic, too, that Miles is interested in famous last words because he wants to know how to become famous and memorable  himself (i.e., how to get a biography written about oneself). Miles is a young, ambitious, but inexperienced person: he's willing to take any bits of information that he thinks could help him on the way to greatness. Furthermore, we've already seen that Miles is fascinated by the concept of using a "key" to understand a person's entire life. Just as Miles believes that the "key" to understanding Alaska's existence is her mother's death, he believes that the key to understanding a great man's life to learn what he said just before he dies. In Miles's world, nothing is random: everything has an explanation.

“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.

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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Miles Halter Character Timeline in Looking for Alaska

The timeline below shows where the character Miles Halter appears in Looking for Alaska. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days Before
Identity Theme Icon
The book begins with Miles discussing the going away party his mother throws for him the week before he leaves... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Miles’ mother asks him if he wants to leave Florida because he doesn’t have any friends.... (full context)
2. One Hundred Twenty-Eight Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
The following week, Miles arrives at Culver Creek. He says goodbye to his parents, does some unpacking, and then... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Chip tells Miles that he is at Culver Creek on an academic scholarship. He wrote his scholarship essay... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
After Miles helps Chip unpack his things, Chip explains to Miles that there are two types of... (full context)
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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Chip nicknames Miles “Pudge” because he’s so skinny, and he tells Miles that he should call him “the... (full context)
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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After buying cigarettes from Alaska, the Colonel and Miles go down to the lake and Miles smokes for the first time. The Colonel explains... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Colonel leaves and Miles tries to smoke another cigarette. He tells the reader that he doesn’t have a good... (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.... (full context)
3. One Hundred Twenty-Seven Days Before
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The next morning Miles asks the Colonel about Alaska’s boyfriend. The Colonel says that she must like him, because... (full context)
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...Weekday Warrior, and Takumi reminds the Colonel that his own girlfriend is a Weekday Warrior. Miles thinks it’s dumb to hate an entire group of people. There is much speculation among... (full context)
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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That night, Miles decides to sleep in only his boxers because it is too hot to wear anything... (full context)
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The Colonel is confused by why it took Miles so long to come home, and he is shocked to learn that Kevin and the... (full context)
4. One Hundred Twenty-Six Days Before
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Miles attends his first class at Culver Creek and is surprised to find that all of... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Later that day Miles attends World Religion class. The teacher, whom the students call the Old Man, announces that... (full context)
5. One Hundred Twenty-Two Days Before
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A few days later, Miles finds the Colonel in their bedroom, trying—and failing—to iron a shirt for his dinner with... (full context)
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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...all else, is stunned that anyone would imagine he would rat on a fellow student. Miles doesn’t understand why the Colonel doesn’t break up with Sara if he hates Weekday Warriors... (full context)
6. One Hundred Ten Days Before
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One day Miles gets in trouble with Dr. Hyde, who catches him staring out a window during class.... (full context)
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Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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Alaska is angry at the Colonel and Takumi for not leaving with her and Miles, but when they finally get out of class, the four walk down to “the Smoking... (full context)
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Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
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Alaska tells Miles that she wants to kiss him but she can’t because she has a boyfriend. Takumi... (full context)
7. One Hundred Nine Days Before
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The Colonel convinces Miles to go to the Creek’s first basketball game, despite the fact that Miles hates sports... (full context)
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Miles is shocked to find that everyone in the school, from the goth girls to Kevin... (full context)
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...something ridiculous. Eventually, the Colonel gets kicked out, which turns out to be his goal. Miles is happy to be friends with someone as bold as the Colonel. (full context)
8. One Hundred Eight Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
The next day Dr. Hyde asks Miles to stay behind after class. He knows that Miles likes the class, and he tells... (full context)
9. One Hundred One Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
...group of people to McDonalds to study. A girl named Lara has to sit in Miles’ lap to fit in the car, which Alaska has named “Blue Citrus.” Hank suggests to... (full context)
10. One Hundred Days Before
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Identity Theme Icon
Miles asks Alaska about her name. She explains that when she was born, her parents couldn’t... (full context)
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Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
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Alaska talks to Miles about how difficult it’s going to be to get out of her hometown of Vine... (full context)
11. Ninety-Nine Days Before
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Miles, the Colonel, Takumi, and Alaska go down to the lake to smoke. The Eagle happens... (full context)
12. Ninety-Eight Days Before
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Miles, the Colonel, Takumi, and Alaska go to see the Jury, which is a group of... (full context)
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Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Alaska and the Colonel take the fall for smoking and keep Miles and Takumi out of trouble. Alaska has been in trouble enough times that she is... (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... (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 so that Miles can’t... (full context)
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Miles wakes up the next morning and continues to repeat that he is concussed. The Colonel... (full context)
15. Eighty-Four Days Before
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Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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It 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... (full context)
16. Seventy-Six Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
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Identity Theme Icon
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...to pick a question and then discuss how Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists would answer it. Miles decides his question will be about what happens when we die. The Colonel plans to... (full context)
17. Sixty-Seven Days Before
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It finally stops raining, and Miles sits outside thinking about the last words of Civil War commanders. Takumi finds him and... (full context)
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Miles is skeptical at first, but Takumi explains that he figured out that no one could... (full context)
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Takumi tells Miles that the Colonel and Alaska are planning a prank, and Miles will need to be... (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 he can’t tell... (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... (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. He uncovers... (full context)
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Alaska and Miles lie in the grass reading, and Miles considers telling Alaska that he loves her. Just... (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 other students’... (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 is particularly skilled at finding... (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... (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... (full context)
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Alaska helps the Colonel’s mom, Dolores, cook dinner, while Miles and the Colonel play video games. The food is delicious and Miles realizes that the... (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 sleeps outside.... (full context)
23. Forty-Six Days Before
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The next day is Thanksgiving, and Miles thinks that Dolores makes the best Thanksgiving meal he’s ever had. In Miles’ family, everyone... (full context)
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Miles says that he’s grateful for the food, company, and having a place to spend Thanksgiving.... (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... (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 Miles doesn’t know what she’s... (full context)
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...the one who told, he said to her that he could never trust her again. Miles suggests that maybe it would help if Alaska explained to him why she turned Marya... (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 he... (full context)
26. Eight Days Before
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...thinking that the yearly prank on the school has already happened. She decides that she, Miles, the Colonel, Takumi, and Lara, whom Miles hasn’t spoken to since he threw up on... (full context)
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Miles is annoyed at Alaska for leaving him out. It’s happened before, but Miles thought that... (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... (full context)
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Instead of writing a more academic conclusion to his paper, Miles decides to talk about why he thinks people care about what happens when we die.... (full context)
28. Three Days Before
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Miles packs two-days worth of black clothing for the weekend in the barn and he, the... (full context)
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The Colonel has coordinated the prank down to the second. As they leave the barn, Miles thinks that this is the coolest he has ever felt, and that the Great Perhaps... (full context)
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Miles and Takumi set off a string of fireworks. Their timing and path has been carefully... (full context)
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...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. He thinks that it takes too... (full context)
29. Two Days Before
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Miles says that his best day is today. He tells them that he woke up next... (full context)
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...kicked him out and he never came back. The Colonel hasn’t heard from him since. Miles can’t top this, but tells his story about the time when a boy in his... (full context)
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...sudden she had to be responsible for the things her parents could no longer do. Miles realizes that Lara is quiet like he is and they finally have something in common.... (full context)
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...only got to see her as she was being lifted onto her Buddhist funeral pyre. Miles decides to smoke a cigarette even though he knows it’s dumb to smoke in such... (full context)
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...was too young to have known what to do and that it’s not her fault. Miles thinks back to when Alaska said that her mother doesn’t smoke anymore and now understands... (full context)
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Miles now understands that this “was the central moment of Alaska’s life.” He understands why she... (full context)
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Later that night, Miles decides to make a move on Lara and eventually ends up climbing into her sleeping... (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 he doesn’t get the... (full context)
31. The Last Day
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Kevin shows up at Miles and the Colonel’s room and congratulates them on dying his hair blue. He asks for... (full context)
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Lara and Miles spend the day hanging out. Lara tries to give Miles a blow job, but neither... (full context)
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Miles thinks a bit and then tells Lara that the way people die is often indicative... (full context)
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...the success of their prank. There are white tulips in Alaska’s room, and she tells Miles that Jake got them for her for their anniversary. Eventually Alaska suggests a game of... (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.... (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... (full context)
32. The Day After
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The Eagle wakes Miles and the Colonel up the next morning and tells them to go to the gym.... (full context)
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...the gym, they don’t see him, and the Colonel thinks that his suspicion is confirmed. Miles is sad about Dr. Hyde, but can’t stop thinking about what Alaska’s words “To be... (full context)
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...finally tells everyone that overnight, Alaska died in a car crash. The room falls silent. Miles runs out of the gym to throw up and is overwhelmed with guilt for letting... (full context)
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Miles tells the Eagle that Alaska is just playing a prank on everyone. The Eagle explains... (full context)
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Miles starts running through people’s last words in his head. He knows lots of them, but,... (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... (full context)
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The Colonel tells Miles that he spent the night memorizing the capitals of every country in the world. They... (full context)
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Miles wonders if an instantaneous death feels instantaneous to the person dying. Did Alaska think about... (full context)
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Lara comes to see Miles but he doesn’t know how to talk to her, because he feels like he’s in... (full context)
34. Four Days After
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The Colonel finally returns. He is freezing and tells Miles that he walked to Montevallo and back, which adds up to be 84 miles in... (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 cannot love... (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 asks her father why it’s... (full context)
36. Seven Days After
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The Colonel tells Miles that he has just had lunch with the Eagle, who asked him if he was... (full context)
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Miles takes Alaska’s condoms and the Colonel looks for her alcohol stash. Miles is happy to... (full context)
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Miles turns to the general’s last words and is surprised to find the words “Straight &... (full context)
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Miles shows the note to the Colonel, who realizes that Alaska died “straight and fast.” She... (full context)
37. Eight Days After
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...and a number of people who didn’t know Alaska well speak about their grief, while Miles and the Colonel remain silent. (full context)
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...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 as he... (full context)
38. Nine Days After
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...saw the jackknifed truck and realized it could be “the end to her labyrinthine mystery.” Miles tells the Colonel that she couldn’t have been thinking about Jake because she was making... (full context)
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...him “her accomplice,” and he’s furious with her for driving a wedge between himself and Miles. He wants to ask Jake about his call with Alaska that night, but Miles isn’t... (full context)
39. Thirteen Days After
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Miles and the Colonel walk to the Pelham Police Department to talk to the police officer... (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... (full context)
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Miles becomes frustrated and says that whatever they find out, they are no less guilty, and... (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... (full context)
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Miles says that looking for answers is only making him hate Alaska. He thinks to himself... (full context)
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...she doesn’t understand Morse code. The Colonel calls Holly a “stupid bitch” once she leaves. Miles points out that Alaska wouldn’t have wanted him to ever call a girl a bitch. (full context)
41. Twenty Days After
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The Colonel brings up calling Jake again, and Miles still refuses to participate in the call. The Colonel tells him he can’t figure it... (full context)
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Miles goes to the Smoking Hole and screams at the top of his lungs about everything... (full context)
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Miles wonders if he should hope that he can forget Alaska and not have to think... (full context)
42. Twenty-One Days After
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...love God because he is God, not because doing so will get them to heaven. Miles hasn’t read the story, because he has studied very little since Alaska’s death. He likes... (full context)
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Miles and Takumi go to McDonalds and Miles apologizes for ignoring Takumi since the accident—something he’s... (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 try to replicate Alaska’s intoxication level on her last... (full context)
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Miles knocks on the Eagle’s door to distract him so that the Colonel can run in... (full context)
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...spends the night trying to 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... (full context)
44. Twenty-Eight Days After
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The next morning Miles takes a French test that he hasn’t studied for at all. The exam asks him... (full context)
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Miles and the Colonel tell Takumi about how they helped Alaska leave, and he says they... (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... (full context)
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...The fact that she made this plan with Jake and said “To be continued” to Miles suggests to the group that she wasn’t planning on killing herself. (full context)
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Miles and the Colonel try to remember the conversation they had with Alaska on her last... (full context)
46. Thirty-Seven Days After
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One day Miles literally runs into Lara and he apologizes. This is the first time they’ve spoken since... (full context)
47. Forty-Five Days After
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People have stopped giving Miles and the Colonel cigarettes out of sympathy, so Takumi drives them to Coosa Liquors to... (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... (full context)
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Miles and Lara walk to the lake. He tells her as much as he can about... (full context)
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That evening, Lara, Takumi, the Colonel, and Miles each throw a cigarette into the Smoking Hole, which is actually more like a fishing... (full context)
49. Fifty-One Days After
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Miles learns about koans, which are a type of riddle in Zen Buddhism that are meant... (full context)
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Miles likes the idea that someday no one in the world will remember Alaska. She has... (full context)
50. Sixty-Two Days After
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Miles calls his parents to tell them that he hasn’t been doing well in school because... (full context)
51. Sixty-Nine Days After
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...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 stands up and says that they... (full context)
52. Eighty-Three Days After
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...spring break coordinating the prank, and the group convenes once everyone is back on campus. Miles suspects that the Colonel has spent so much time working on the prank so that... (full context)
53. Eighty-Four Days After
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...to agree to host “Dr. William Morse,” who they will say is a friend of Miles’ dad and a scholar of adolescent sexuality. Miles calls his dad and asks him if... (full context)
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...love the prank and are happy to assist. Longwell Chase, the class president, goes with Miles to the Eagle’s office, and they tell him that they have chosen a friend of... (full context)
54. One Hundred Two Days After
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Although Miles’ dad pretended to be Dr. Morse on the phone, the group hires a male stripper... (full context)
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...the Colonel gives him the speech he has written him and pays his fee upfront. Miles accompanies Maxx to the gym, since he is supposed to be a friend of Miles’... (full context)
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Students from the other grads can’t figure out who was responsible for the prank, and Miles tells everyone that it wasn’t him or the Colonel or Takumi, but Alaska. Alaska once... (full context)
55. One Hundred Fourteen Days After
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...and a half later, 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... (full context)
56. One Hundred Eighteen Days After
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...trying to find out anything else. They aren’t certain whether she intended to die, but Miles decides “some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved.” Miles isn’t sure if he should be... (full context)
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The Colonel and Miles decide that the last thing they need to do before they can let go of... (full context)
58. One Hundred Twenty-Two Days After
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Miles asks the Colonel how he is going to escape the labyrinth, and the Colonel says... (full context)
59. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days After
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On the last day of school, Miles finds a note from Takumi slipped under his door. In it, Takumi tells Miles that... (full context)
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Miles runs to Takumi’s room to forgive him but he’s already gone. In that moment, Miles... (full context)
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Miles runs back home and sits down to write his religion paper. He writes that before... (full context)
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Miles writes that eventually he will forget Alaska, but he knows that she will forgive him... (full context)
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Miles knows that matter cannot be truly destroyed, and he believes that Alaska’s energy works the... (full context)