The most captivating part of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp is the voice of the main character, Sutter Keely. He’s part drunk and rebellious teen, part girl chaser, and part sad kid of a single parent home. But through this, he’s all snark and wit.
Sutter, a senior in high school, has just managed to lose his girlfriend in a situation innocent enough, but it’s not only the appearance of cheating that causes Cassidy to break up with him. He’s inattentive and more interested in drinking, partying, and having sex than actually listening to her. A real catch, eh? Can’t blame her.
But this doesn’t get Sutter down, and he does have redeeming qualities. Deep down, he’s a good guy—caring and sympathetic, even if he doesn’t always go about it the best way. He’s convinced Cassidy will see her error in dumping him and come around. In the meantime, he meets Aimee Finecky who is not Sutter’s typical catch. She’s quiet, loves sci-fi books, and has never been to a party. What starts as a She’s All That-style mission, ends up anything but. Aimee shows Sutter how to be about more than just the now.
Both Sutter and Aimee are unique and interesting characters. In a plotline that’s not completely unique, the character voices are what make the story. Put that with the crazy ending and this is one awesome, realistic YA book about the resistance to becoming an adult in the midst of growing up.
Did you read it? What did you think?
4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp”
It looks like the book has a fun cover. Where did you find the novel, Denise? You know, many cultures have rituals through which children become adults but we seem to lack anything similar. As a result, many journies into adulthood are marked by awkwardness, embarrassment and fear. It’s too bad our culture does not support the provision of more guidance and wisdom for those going through this unenviable transition. Coming-of-age stories, however and unsurprisingly, end up being a rich type of fiction.
I found it in a list of books being made into movies. I like to read the book first. Our ritual seems to be finish high school, go off to college, join the “real world,” and figure it out on your own along the way. Maybe that’s why there’s so much great fiction–it’s hard to do that well :)
I read it a while ago, and LOVED every second of it. Sutter was adorably inept, and I loved how he was always trying to “help” Aimee. The voices jumped off the page, and you’re right…although the plot was a little predictable at times, Tharp’s genuine talent at creating deep, honest characters was what made this great.
He definitely has a gift for character voice! Have you seen the movie? I wish it had been done better.