Title: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
My Rating: 4 Stars
"So, my girlfriend, Cassidy, is threatening to kick me to the curb again, my best friend suddenly wants to put the brakes on our lives of fabulous fun, my mom and big sister are plotting a future in which I turn into an atomic vampire, and my dad, well, my dad is a big fat question mark that I’m not sure I want the answer to. Some people would let a senior year like this get them down. Not me. I’m Sutter Keely, master of the party. But don’t mistake a midnight philosopher like me for nothing more than a shallow party boy. Just ask Aimee, the new girl in my life. She saw the depth in the Sutterman from that first moment when she found me passed out on the front lawn. Okay, so she’s a social disaster, but that’s where I come in. Yes, life is weird, but I embrace the weird. Let everyone else go marching off into their great shining futures if they want. Me, I’ve always been more than content to tip my whisky bottle and take a ride straight into the heart of the spectacular now."
Sutter is confident, but not full of himself. He lives life to the fullest- everything’s a party, or is it? Sutter is an alcoholic, but he doesn’t quite realize he has a problem. He thinks he’s just having fun; for him, drinking makes everything brighter, more beautiful, more spectacular. He’s stuck in the now, but see’s himself as embracing it.
Enter Aimee. She’s quiet, insecure, nerdy. She’s the complete opposite of Sutter. When she finds Sutter passed out on a stranger’s lawn while on her paper route, Sutter takes it as an opportunity to ‘save her’ from herself and those who walk all over her. He wants to give her confidence, teach how to enjoy life to the fullest, and help her to stand up for herself.
What he doesn’t seem to realize, though, is that as he helps her to gain confidence and to stand on her own, he’s disabling himself, taking away his own confidence. He goes along with whatever Aimee wants, for the most part, and does what he is trying to stop her from doing. But not only that, he drags Aimee along with him into his downward spiral of partying and the Spectacular Now, until the point where he finally realizes that he isn’t good for her. However, changing isn’t easy for Sutter.
Overall: I really liked this book. Sutter is an amusing, kind, and incredibly fun character to see the world through, though at times he is misguided and completely wrong about things. I expected him to get things together more towards the end, but he does begin to see a bit more clearly. As he transitions into being an adult, I think he’s still finding his way, which isn’t easy with his desire to simply live in the now. I would recommend this book to high-schoolers, and even adults as a way to look back and remember their first love and the troubles of high school. A great read!
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