From the ALA website:
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.
Why was this book banned or challenged?
A sexual situation between two characters was labeled pornographic by parents who felt students at Depew High School in New York who felt it would cause children to engage in immoral behavior.
John Green responded in a vlog, he explains why the scene is not pornographic and the point of the characters being in the situation they were in.
Looking for Alaska is full of quirky characters, which are my favorite types of characters because I don't know anyone who doesn't have a quirk.
Pudge memorizes famous last words.
The Colonel memorizes geographic capitals.
Alaska is mysterious, funny, and trying to figure out how to get out of the labyrinth of suffering.
John splits the book into two parts: Before and After. This separation worked for me because I think many of us separate our lives this way. We see ourselves in the Before, then something happens that changes us forever and we are in the After.
Like John said in his vlog, there is no substitution for emotional connection. Sex doesn't fill that gap. Pudge goes looking for the Great Perhaps and somehow finds it in a dismal, tiny private school where the rich kids and the poor kids are in a constant prank war. He not only finds The Girl and himself. He finds life.
The thing I loved about Pudge's decision to leave his family and few friends for boarding school was that it was selfish. Sometimes being selfish is what needs to be done. People become unhappy and let themselves get into a routine that eats away at them, convincing themselves they can't change anything. But Pudge leaves because he knows that is what he needs to do for himself. So there is a time and place for selfishness, and in the beginning Pudge uses it wisely, and in the end he doesn't. Looking for Alaska shows us how one choice changes everything.