Looking for Alaska is John Green's first novel, published in March 2005 by Dutton Juvenile. It won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, and led the association's list of most-challenged books in 2015 due to profanity and sexually explicit scenes. Looking for Alaska is inspired by Green's own experiences as a high school student.
The novel is heavily based off John Green's early life. As he explains, "I myself was once a guy from Florida who was obsessed with the dying words of famous people and then left home to attend a boarding school in Alabama." He goes on to explain that while the novel is fictional, the setting is not. Green attended Indian Springs School, a boarding and day school outside of Birmingham, Alabama. Culver Creek of Looking for Alaska is Indian Springs School. From the smoking hole to the swing Pudge and Alaska sat on, John Green based the entire setting off of his high school. Characters are loosely based on his high school experiences, including smoking cigarettes in the woods instead of going to class. While he was enrolled there, a student died under circumstances similar to the character of Alaska, which inspired the plot of the novel.