Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now
Title: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 304
Age Rating: Readers over 13 due to substance abuse
My Opinion: 8/10

Hi, Readers!

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.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Title: To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 288
Age Rating: Readers over 13
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

       Sometimes good books come from unexpected sources.  I was reading a Seventeen magazine (don't judge me!!!!), and I saw an ad for To All The Boys I've Loved Before.  After looking at the adorable cover and reading the short summary of the book, I took a picture of the cover with my phone and then forgot about it.  Finally, three months later, I got around to checking it out from the library, and boy, am I glad that I did.  This is possibly because I just finished reading an extremely boring book, but I was absolutely entranced by Jenny Han's light and funny style of writing.  I would highly recommend To All The Boys I've Loved Before to any high school girl.

       When Lara Jean's mother was still alive, she gave her a teal hat box and told her to put her most prized possessions inside.  Lara Jean takes her mom's advice and fills the box with five love letters.  However, these are no normal love letters - she writes each one when she is done being in love with a different boy and wants to move on.  She never expects anybody to read them.  So when the letters are accidentally mailed, well, things get a little crazy.  Each of the five boys reacts in a different way, and Lara Jean ends up in a love triangle that she never thought was possible.  She has to navigate these difficult relationships while taking care of her family at the same time, a feat that is practically impossible.

       My favorite part of the novel is that Jenny Han created characters that I fell in love with.  They are all so lifelike that when I was reading, I felt like I was actually hanging out with Lara Jean and her family.  My favorite character would probably be Lara Jean's little sister, Kitty.  She's a stereotypical younger sibling, always getting on everybody's nerves, but she is extremely intelligent and witty.  I also love the relationships between the characters.  Of course, Han focuses on the relationships between Lara Jean and the boys, but she also incorporates Lara Jean's relationship with her two sisters and her father into the plot.  Lara Jean's mourning of her mother is extremely realistic - she obviously misses her mother greatly, but she is not hung up on it and this seems to free up the story.  I'm so impressed with how Han incorporated a few major social issues into the book while keeping it so upbeat and positive.

       Lara Jean is just such a fantastic character that I could go on and on about her forever.  She is everything that a female protagonist should be - strong but caring, smart, and passionate.  Although she has a few flaws, they are flaws that the majority of high school girls can relate to.  Reading about Lara Jean falling in love for the first time made me feel butterflies in my stomach alongside her, and I was rooting for her relationship to work out the whole time.  I truly wanted Lara Jean to be happy, which is quite a feat considering she is a fictional character.

cookie       Just to clarify, though, To All The Boys I've Loved Before is only for a female audience.  Male readers definitely wouldn't enjoy it as much as I did.  I think that grown-ups would enjoy reading it and find it to be a cute book, but it is perfect for high school and even college-aged girls.  Now, every time one of my friends asks for a book suggestion, I am totally telling them to read To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

Happy reading!

P.S. I just found out there's a sequel coming out on my birthday next year!!!!!  I can't wait!  (P.S. I Still Love You, being released on April 21, 2015)