Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp


Spectacular Now Discussion

Title: Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Since, this isn’t a type of book I read often I’m not sure who to suggest it to.  It was a contemporary realistic fiction, but just not the type I’m used to reading.

 Our book starts off with the main character, Sutter, buying 7-up to mix with his whiskey.  Sutter is a fun-loving alcoholic who believes that the only things that matters in the here-and-now. Sutter is the type of guy who you hate in theory, but can’t actually hate.  For example you want to  hate party guys that care more about being drunk than their friends, and hate people who drink and drive, AND hate people who don’t have any ambition.  But, there’s something about Sutter makes him impossible to hate.
We soon realize that Sutter is having relationship problems with his beautiful, fat girlfriend Cassidy.  Cassidy thinks that Sutter is selfish and inconsiderate.  We also meet Sutter’s best friend, Ricky.  Ricky likes to party and have fun like Sutter, but Ricky’s more into smoking weed than getting drunk.  Ricky isn’t quite as much of a party animal as Sutter and he has plans for his life after high school.  The biggest difference in Sutter and Ricky is that Ricky understands at some point the party stops, and there are other important parts of life.

Sutter decides to help Ricky out by introducing him to girls.  They end up hanging out with Tara and Bethany, two girls from Sutter’s school.  Ricky and Bethany hit it off, and all is going well until Cassidy sees Sutter hug Tara good-bye.  Bethany gets ticked-off and dumps Sutter.

Sutter, looking for advice, confides in his coworker, Bob, about all that has happened with Cassidy.  Bob tells Sutter to put Cassidy first and bring her roses and apologize.  Sutter gets really drunk on the way to apologize to Cassidy and finds her at a friend’s house kissing Marcus West—a very selfless, yet boring basketball player from their school.  After drunkenly embarrassing himself Sutter leaves devastated.

The next night Sutter goes to his older sister’s house for a dinner party, he brings a joint along just in case the party gets boring.  Which is does, so Sutter does upstairs to his sister’s bedroom lights the joint in the closet.  Sutter accidently ignites one of his brother-in-law’s suits on fire.  Embarrassed and drunk Sutter flees his sister’s.

The next morning Sutter is woken up by Aimee Finecky—an awkward classmate of his.  Sutter is in a yard, and his car is nowhere to be seen.  Sutter and Amy finish her paper route as they search for his car, and an odd nerdy girl + popular guy friendship is born.  Sutter even agrees to eat lunch with Aimee at school the next week.  Sutter sees hanging out with Aimee as charity, he’s going to help her be a more confident person, but swears he has no romantic feelings for her.

Monday, Sutter is late for late with Aimee, but eventually makes it.  He’s worried that her feelings will be crushed, but they aren’t—her naivety is evident.   Later in the week, Sutter goes over to Aimee’s to study.  She opens up to him and tells him all about her interests—drawing, horses, and sci-fi literature.  Sutter invites Aimee to a party, this will be her first real party to attend.
Aimee shows up to the party with a horrible purple puffy coat, that just shows how social inept she really is.  There’s some high school party drama (that is stirred up by Sutter) and Sutter & Aimee leave to get away from the party.

The next morning Sutter wakes up with a hangover and blurred memories.  He knows he kissed Aimee, and that she got sick from drinking.  When Sutter hangs out with Ricky he tells him about the kiss, and Ricky shares that he is cleaning up his act less partying, less destructive choices.  Sutter is upset by this.

Throughout the rest of the book, Sutter pulls Aimee deeper and deeper into the life of partying and drinking.  They get into a relationship that Sutter knows will end, but Aimee thinks will last forever.

Sutter admits to Aimee that his dad isn’t a hotshot working in the Chase building like everyone believes.  His dad ran out on the family and hasn’t been heard of since.  Aimee convinces Sutter to talk to his mom and sister and get in contact with his dad.  Finally, Sutter agrees and makes the journey Texas to meet him.  Okay, I’ve pretty much summarized the entire book, so I’m not going to spoil the last bit about Sutter’s dad.

I picked up this book because I saw it on one of those “10 YA books to read this year” list.  I glad I did, even though it’s not something I may have picked up on my own I really enjoyed it.

Like I said in the summary Sutter is someone I’d like to hate, but can’t. This was an interesting book, and I plan on seeing the movie soon.  The ending was non-conclusive, which is something I’m okay with, but many reading aren’t.

·      The short chapters.
·      That is was in a guy’s POV, and therefore used ridiculous words that girls would never use like “spanktacular”
·      I also liked how he never really learned his lesson—it seems more real.  I feel like in 10 years Sutter is going to be a man-child who thinks he’s still cool.

·      His sister Holly got on my nerves, and so did Aimee’s family.
·      I feel like he should have gotten in real trouble at some point.

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