Title: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Age Rating: Readers over 13 due to substance abuse
My Opinion: 8/10
Have you ever come across a character that you love to hate? Well, I found one when I was reading The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp. I don't think I've ever read a book where I was so intrigued by the main character but still managed to hate every decision he made. And I'm not exaggerating. I still can't believe that I liked this book as much as I did, because the character that Tharp created is terribly skewed in his way of thinking.
|Sutter and Aimee from the movie|
Sutter Keely is always the life of the party. Any high schooler who wants to have a good time knows to seek out Sutter. Although the ladies seem to love him at parties and at school, Sutter can't manage to keep a girlfriend. They all break up with him after a couple of months, and he can't figure out why. Weirdest of all, every single one of Sutter's ex-girlfriends wants to stay friends with him. When his dream girl breaks up with him, Sutter wonders if he has to make a change to his lifestyle. After a rough night of partying, he wakes up on a girl named Aimee's front lawn and decides to make the shy, intelligent girl his "project". He believes that if he helps Aimee to climb the social ladder, he will be doing some good in the world and his life will return to normalcy. However, as Sutter grows closer to Aimee, he becomes even more confused about his feelings, and it will take a lot more than parties and alcohol to solve his problems.
Let me make this very clear before you decide to read this book - take everything Sutter says with a grain of salt. He claims that he's not an alcoholic. LIES. Sutter is drunk throughout every page of the book. I can't believe he gets away with it - he's drunk at work, during school, while driving... You'd think somebody would stage an intervention. Sadly, Sutter doesn't have a strong support system. Tim Tharp does a wonderful job of incorporating Sutter's broken family as a subplot while keeping the emphasis on Sutter's relationships.
I am so frustrated at how likeable a character Sutter is, because I want to hate him. (Be prepared for a rant here.) He is drunk all the time, turns Aimee into a lush, doesn't care at all about those around him, and thinks the world revolves around him. He breaks the law on a regular basis, he skips school, and he disregards authority. And trust me, I could keep this list going. But, Sutter's friendly attitude, hilarious anecdotes, and overall warm character makes him irresistible. I'm sure that, although he has many, many flaws, Sutter would be a very fun friend to have in real life.
Once I finished reading The Spectacular Now, I thought for a good five minutes about what the point of the book was. I felt impacted, but I did not know how. I was very disappointed at how the book ended, but only because I NEEDED to know what happened to all of the characters because I felt so emotionally attached to them. I would highly recommend that any high schooler, especially boys, would read The Spectacular Now, but trust me when I say it leaves you questioning and wanting more. My next step is to watch the movie adaptation, and I'm hoping that Miles Teller will portray Sutter to his full extent of awesomeness.