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Cady is a staff writer here at The Hudsucker. She is an English major and Writing minor at Grand Valley State University. Her dream is to be a novelist or to work for a publishing company. She enjoys reading, traveling, and watching Boy Meets World, The Voice and Back to the Future. Follow her on Twitter as @cadyelizabeth9

The Spectacular, “Spectacular Now”

On shelves dominated by paranormal romances, dystopian adventures, aliens, werewolves, and superpowers, The Spectacular Now is one Young Adult novel stripped down to the reality of a teen boy growing up in a familiar world. Without the help of flashy, overplayed teen fiction tropes, Tim Tharp delivers a real character in Sutter Keely — the kind of guy you either love-to-hate or hate-to-love.

The Spec Now Book CoverThe Spectacular Now chronicles a short time in the life of a party boy’s senior year of high school. Sutter is big on drinking, girls, and “embracing the weird” in life. Perhaps Sutter is so compelling because we all knew someone at least a little bit like him in high school. He’s content to just slide by and sail through the tough stuff.  If something goes wrong, he ends up in the comforting arms of his jumbo cup of 7Up and whisky.

Sutter’s had a string of girlfriends, but when he finds himself single after his “beautiful fat” girlfriend Cassidy dumps him, he’s at a bit of a standstill. With his incredibly smarmy charm, Sutter gets himself into more and more trouble as the story goes on. Enter Aimee,the kind of girl who immerses herself in worlds of science fiction to escape from the real world that isn’t so kind to her. She’s a social disaster, which Sutter sees as the perfect reason to take her under his wing. With Sutter’s help, Aimee attends her first party, disobeys her parents, and becomes the subject of a lot of school gossip.

When Sutter and Aimee first began interacting, I thought I knew how it would end. Never have I been more happy to be wrong, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed this book. I was pulled in by the way Tharp describes the personality of his characters. No character in the story is just one thing; no word can encapsulate all that they are. I appreciated being surrounded by a world of rich characters who were all more than just words on a page.

Sutter as a narrator is one of the biggest draws of this book. It’s refreshing to read a YA book that isn’t in the words of a female character. Sutter has such a unique perspective on life that made everything he says interesting. It helps us get a sense of his vulnerability, and added a lot to the drama.

When I first picked up the book, I thought I knew what to expect: a typical teen coming-of-age romance. I was expecting some huge moral, a profound, heartwarming lesson to smack me in the face when I got to the end. You don’t get that with this book. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to take away from The Spectacular Now. Through the adventures of Sutter and Aimee, we start to see life in a new way. But,much like in real life, the takeaway is subtle. It really makes you think. It was rewarding to watch Sutter and Aimee begin to embrace all that is the spectacular now.

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley as Sutter and Aimee Image Credit: 21 Laps Entertainment

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley as Sutter and Aimee Image Credit: 21 Laps Entertainment

The Spectacular Now has been made into a movie that hit theaters in select cities this month. It stars Miles Teller (Project X) as Sutter and Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) as Aimee.

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