Today, as part of my fun in the sun series, Summer Reading….Had Me a Blast, I will be reviewing The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. Check back each week for my thoughts on all of my summer reads. And remember, you might, just might, have a chance to win all of these books later this summer.
SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.
Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.
Not going to lie, I hadn’t heard of this novel until the critically acclaimed movie, which is pretty sad cause it’s pretty darn great. Don’t worry novel enthusiasts, I didn’t watch the movie until I finished the book. I am certainly glad I made that choice because the differences between the two are super important to the message that each narrative is trying to sell ( but more on that in Thursday’s Book to Screen blog post).
So, let’s get to it….I LOVE this book. As someone getting ready to venture into the world of Contemporary YA, I think Tharp nailed it. Smart, smart, smart. This book is so smart and real. I love a an author who isn’t afraid to write real people and not just characters. The most beautiful thing about life is how imperfect it is. How both beautiful and dark the world’s imperfections are. I am all about embracing that.
Sutter, the novel’s main character, is, at times, an asshole. Seemingly fatally flawed. But with Tharp’s use of wit, he never comes across as unlikable. And those are the most depressing of people—-the people you only see potential in, the people who waste it. That’s why this story of addiction works. It’s do damn realistic. Everyone knows someone like this. Someone you want to shake and scream at: Don’t you know how loved you are? Don’t you know the things you could do? Don’t you know you could be happy?
Now, a lot fans did not like the novel’s abrupt and less than sun-shiney ending. I thought it was perfect. Because guess what? That’s life. It doesn’t always provide you the answers you seek, and it doesn’t always end the way it should. And as a reader, and writer, I am so thankful Tharp was brave enough to take the narrative in this direction.
My one complaint is the novel’s love interest. She wasn’t a female character I could get behind…but maybe that’s the point. And another reason I totally support the novel’s ending.
So, if you like stories that are funny, smart, and brutally real, pick this book up now.