Review: The Spectacular Now

Title: The Spectacular Now Image

Author: Tim Tharp

Rating: ★★★1/2

Provided 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.

Review: This is such a difficult book for me to write a review for, and I believe it all boils down to what my mother had to say about the main character: “Everybody knows someone like that.” Sutter Keely is a teenage alcoholic. He can deny it as much as he wants, but that is the truth of it. As a reader you can get so sucked into his narrative voice that at the end you are brought devastatingly down to reality. You realize that this is a character on a destructive path no matter how much charisma he may brandish to momentarily blind you to otherwise.

While Sutter may remain ignorant to his deterioration, the author illustrates how much he has fallen through the characters that surround him. The juxtaposition is clear: while the author writes firmly and truthfully in Sutter’s mindset, the people he has known for a good deal of his life have begun to separate themselves from him. They try to help him, but how can you help someone who will never give up what they are doing when they will always have someone to cheer on their antics? Realization of the path he is on hits him yet it is still not enough to convince him to begin to save himself. The Spectacular Now is a tragic story that holds onto a realistic stance that I had not expected. Not all stories will end happily, and although I should have been able to see how (and deep down I really did know all along) this story would wind up, you feel mournful nonetheless.

Everybody knows someone like Sutter Keely.

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