Turtles All the Way Down: Is White River High a Real School in Indianapolis?

Max’s ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ follows the story of Aza Holmes, who wonders if she will ever have a normal life. Unlike normal people, she is constantly occupied by the thoughts of bacteria, of how they are all around her and in her body, and how she can fall sick at any moment and die. The thoughts are invasive and hound her, often catching her off-guard and throwing her down a spiral that feels impossible to come out of. But despite all this, she picks herself up and tries to go about her life as best as she can. Reprieve comes in the form of her best friend, Daisy, whom she meets almost every day because they go to the same school, which is named after the river on whose bank their city stands.

The White River High School in the Movie is Fictional

‘Turtles All the Way Down’ is the adaptation of John Green’s book. The author set the story in Indianapolis, where he was born and currently resides, to express his love for the city. The city becomes a character in itself in the story, something Aza wants to get out of after finishing school but also feels impossible to leave. All the characters and events in the book are fictional, and so is the high school where Aza and Daisy go. Green most likely named it after the White River, and it also becomes an important plot point in the story.

Coincidentally, there is a school called White River Valley High School, but it is in Switz City. In Indianapolis itself, there is no school called White River High. Moreover, the film was shot in and around Cincinnati, Ohio, and sets were used to shoot several scenes in the movie. Considering all this, it is fair to assume that White River High School in ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ is not an actual place, and the similarity it has with the school in Switz City is purely coincidental, though not unexpected. Considering that the White River is a major river flowing through Indiana, it would make sense that some part of the state would have a school or an institution that borrows the river’s name. The author of the book was also probably thinking along the same lines when choosing the school’s name.

For Aza and Daisy, White River High is the pit stop to their dreams, the places they want to go and the things they want to achieve in life. For Aza, particularly, the idea is to go to Northwestern in Chicago once school is over. Daisy is one of the few things that makes things bearable for her, especially on the days when the spiral of her thoughts sucks her in too much, and she feels like she is going to drown.

Read More: Do Aza and Davis End Up Together in Turtles All the Way Down?