The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (Review)

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Synopsis: 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.

Genre: Young Adults Literature, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Coming Of Age

Cover: I do believe there are about three different types of covers to this book. The one that I have is the one with the big cup on the front that I’m assuming represents the cup the Sutter carries with him everywhere that contains 7UP and whiskey. It’s a straightforward type of cover. I like it, nothing eye popping though.

What I Have To Say: Sutter is the party man. That’s all he’s known as. The charismatic, smooth talking, cheerful, enthusiastic, funny, and essentially the party man. He does not think about his future or his past. He believes that the only thing that matters is the present and only that. His goal in life is to make every single present moment spectacular and to “embrace the weird” – everyday.

One night while Sutter was out driving, getting spectacularly drunk, and embracing the weird, he passes out on one of his classmate’s front lawn – Aimee.

Sutter does not know Aimee, but Aimee knows Sutter (because, well, everyone knows Sutter). From the moment they meet, Sutter believes it is his responsibility to break Aimee out of her timid shell and get her to stand up for herself after he witnesses how her family and best friend walk all over her. As Sutter and Aimee’s friendship grows, they become closer and closer. To Sutter, Aimee is this meek flower that needs some water and he wants to provide that water…or whiskey preferably.

Even though things progress with Aimee, other aspects in Sutter’s life start to deteriorate. With his family, he is seen as an irresponsible teenage boy that needs to get his grip on life. His mom and his military stepfather nag him constantly on gaining some principal. His sister and her husband are just too stuck up for his taste. He has never thought he fit into his family besides the times when his father was around. Sutter believes he had only had a connection with his father and ever since his mother kicked his dad out when he was young, he has never thought he would ever connect with his family again. Although Aimee tries to convince Sutter that he needs closure from his father, he is reluctant to actually do anything that may potentially ruin the perfect picture he’s thought of his father to be.

Sutter’s best friend Ricky, start to drift away as he spends more and more time with his girlfriend rather than Sutter. This further pushed Sutter closer to Aimee and causes him to feel some sense of abandonment. As Sutter spends more time with Aimee, he adopts some of Aimee’s sci-fi loving ways while she starts to attain Sutter’s avid drinking habit. Ricky and Cassidy (Sutter’s ex- girlfriend and best friend) see this potentially toxic relationship and decide that it would be better for Aimee if Sutter left her. It was obvious that Sutter was not aware of the great influence he had on Aimee and if he did not watch himself he could potentially ruin her. Sutter’s friends are determined to let him know this and try to convince him to stop his horrid habits, but it is just too difficult for Sutter to give up his precious Spectacular Now.

This book was very, very, very good. There is a huge theme on teenage alcoholism in the book mostly pertaining to Sutter. He drinks all the time so that he can always have a good buzz going on. To be honest, I’m not sure who was actually narrating the book. Was it Sutter or the whiskey coursing through his veins? It’s scary to see how bad of a drinking problem Sutter has, how young he still is, and how unaware he is of his growing problem. Sutter has this mindset where he thinks, “I can stop drinking anytime I want, but I don’t want to”. It’s absolutely devastating to read about.  For anyone who has known a teenage alcoholic personally, they will definitely see the parallels between he/she and Sutter. Because of Sutter’s constant buzz, in the book, the reader will see it gets in the way of his job, his thinking process, and motivation.  Aside from Sutter’s drinking problems, he is a wonderful character, but he makes me feel so sad because although he never says it, he has no direction, no plan, and if the drinking continues, no future. What Sutter needs is a reality check but, even if he gets one, will that be enough to change his ways?

The reader and Sutter’s friends know the truth about our main character and how although living life and making every moment fabuloso and spectacular is very fun, it is not what you can do for the rest of  your life. There cannot always be a Spectacular Now

In conclusion, everyone should read this novel. There is no particular reason why besides the fact that it’s funny and real and yes you guessed it – spectacular.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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One thought on “The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (Review)

  1. Thanks for your review! It’s cool to hear a different perspective. I read this about a year ago and I really didn’t like it. The characters annoyed me, and the ending was so disappointing! But you make some good points in its favour. It is definitely a narrative which raises awareness of the issues around teenage drinking and alcoholism.

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