he book begins with Miles Halter's parents throwing him a goodbye party, as he is leaving his Florida home to go to Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama. Although his parents are disappointedwhen only two people attend, Miles has learned to expect nothing more; he is not popular at his current school. When pressed, he uses François Rabelais's last words — "I go to seek a Great Perhaps" —to explain why he is leaving home. Miles' adventurous side made it easy for him to not be nervous as he left the place he had called home so many years before.
Miles moves to Culver Creek andbecomes acquainted with his roommate, Chip "The Colonel" Martin. Shortly after being introduced, the Colonel gives Miles a nickname of his own: "Pudge", ironic because Miles is so thin. His friendship withthe Colonel introduces him to Alaska Young, a girl on whom Pudge develops a crush. On his first night, Pudge is duct-taped and thrown into a lake by the "Weekday Warriors", privileged Birmingham-areastudents. The only apparent reason for this is that he and the Colonel are roommates. The Colonel and Alaska are both furious, and an all-out prank war ensues. Being friends with these pranksters alsointroduces Pudge to a facet of his "Great Perhaps" that he might have only slightly anticipated, if at all: a newfound sense of danger, and over recklessness at breaking rules through such illicitactivities as smoking and drinking on campus.
Pudge's affections for Alaska grow as the novel progresses, but as she is dating a college student, he sees his situation as hopeless. However, Alaskaconsistently makes subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) comments on how she finds Pudge attractive. Even so, she introduces Pudge to a girl in his math class, the shy Romanian Lara Buterskaya, whobecomes his girlfriend. Afterwards Pudge, Lara, Alaska, the Colonel, and their friend Takumi play a "pre-prank" against the Weekday Warriors. In the midst of a drinking game, Alaska reveals that when she...
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