Good evening bloggers. I few days ago I finished reading The Spectacular Now (2008) by Tim Tharp. I haven’t had time to write a review up until now because I have been working up on a uni assignment which involves a lot of social media stuff. I have tweeted about 100 times today.
Anyway, back to the review. I initially picked out this book because I am aware that there is a film adaptation starring the wonderful Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller. I have not yet seen the film but I certainly will be as I really enjoyed the book. Also, I just couldn’t resist getting the film tie-in edition with Shai and Miles on the cover.
What is the book about?
The Spectacular Now is about a rebellious teen called Sutter Keely who isn’t interested in the school-to-career type lifestyle. He is about living in the now, taking each day as it comes and enjoying it to the full. He is satisfied being the guy everyone wants to be. But, when his perfect girlfriend dumps him and moves on, Sutter is left looking for a new focus. He meets Aimee Finicky, a clueless wallflower who is pushed around by everyone. Sutter helps her stand up for herself but can he stop himself before he pushes her too far. Or, is he merely afraid that she will influence him in return and he will end up looking for a future he never thought he wanted?
A kind heart
It took be a while to get used to reading a book which was written from a male characters perspective. Apart from Allegiant (2013) by Veronica Roth which contains chapters from Four’s point of view and Thirteen Reasons Why (2007) by Jay Asher, most the books I have read which are written in first person have had female narrators.
Sutter is a typical high school cool guy. He is very likable even though he does make mistakes. He has such a good heart underneath all the I-don’t-care bravado. He pretends to be detached from life, but the truth is no one can be. He has feelings just like everybody else. I just feel like he doesn’t know how to express them and that makes me really like him as a character. He is misunderstood.
His intentions with Aimee are completely innocent, you can tell he really does want to help her stand up for herself and gain confidence. But I think, in reality, it is not Aimee who needs help. I think Sutter seeks out help for himself, but tells himself it is he who is strong enough to help others. Sometimes those who appear to have the most confidence actually have the least confidence beneath the surface.
Sutter has been hurt in the past from being abandoned by his father, he has pushed away his mother and siblings and turned to alcohol. He learns just as much from Aimee as she learns from him. He hides behind his image as the funny guy who doesn’t care and drinks every day, but really his in vulnerable. I just hope Sutter finds more happiness in his life after the book ends.
A teen romance
Sutter is no stranger to relationships. He has had successful ones and disastrous ones. Cassidy is his girlfriend at the start of the novel. We are introduced to her as Sutter drunkenly tries to gain access to her house through an upstairs window. This is a perfect example of how Sutter tries to do something good but he goes about it in the wrong way. He wanted to make an effort to see his girlfriend, but then he tries to climb the house and falls, consequently breaking the gutter. Oh, Sutter, how adorably hopeless you are.
Then Aimee enters his life and he is somewhat confused by his feelings for her. She has secrets too and she has also been hurt in her past. I think when you read about their relationship as it develops, you get this sense that it isn’t meant to last forever. But that doesn’t make it any less believable and sweet. I love that they are so different but that they both had an empty space in their lives which could only be filled by each other.
The buzz of life
Alcohol is obviously a huge part of this book. It is clear that Sutter relies on it to get through things or at least make them more bearable. Many times in the book we are reminded of the faithful flask of 7UP. But, he also talks of quitting the alcohol apart from on the weekends and he doesn’t seem to feel too worried about doing this. Although it may have been easier said than done.
Sutter introduces Aimee to alcohol and she takes to it. It is made very clear in a later chapter that Aimee is not used to it and cannot handle it as well as Sutter. He does not see this which adds to the impression of his naivety. But, then again, Aimee is free to make her own decisions and I get the impression that she is stronger than Sutter first thinks. I think she would have experimented with drinking whether she met Sutter or not, it is just something that all teenagers do.
I think the characters in this book use alcohol to take the edge of their pain which never really goes away completely for either of them. They find comfort in drinking, but mainly they find comfort in each other. I think it is part of a process which I hope ends in them overcoming their pain and moving on from the drinking. I think they needed to meet each other to share their pain and learn why they think about life the way they do. Particularly for Sutter, after he confided in Aimee and visited his father with her, I feel like he gained a better grip on his life and what he really wanted.
An endearing story of friendship, love and the pains of the past.
I am going to give this book 4/5 stars.
I will definitely be watching and reviewing the film at some point. Until then, here is the trailer…how amazing does this film look?! I need it!