The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
“’Beauty’s all around me right here. It’s not in a textbook. It’s not in an equation.’” This is Sutter Keely’s mantra. He lives in the spectacular now. As he says, “’I was never very big on the future.’” He’s a witty good old boy who is always up for a good time. And he always has his 7-Up and whiskey to help the mood along.
Sutter is a very appealing guy on first glance. You have to love his spontaneity, his concern for others, his ability to grab hold of the moment. And yet somehow, his way of living in the moment isn’t the kind of thing that keeps friends. At least, not girlfriends. Cassidy, his big beautiful babe has to dump him because he can never get to a date on time and is too helpful where other girls are concerned. No matter that he’s helping a lost little boy when he’s supposed to take Cassidy to an appointment. Or that when she won’t let him in the house, he climbs up to the roof to get in her window.
Sutter’s theory about not being able to remember what girls say to him or what they ask of him is that he is so enamored of them (well, maybe he uses a bit more crass language), he can’t keep track of their words. He knows that most girls are intelligent and thoughtful—the opposite of airheads—and that he’s the one who can’t keep track of the conversation.
He’s entirely undependable.
And if he isn’t an alcoholic already, he’s certainly well on his way to becoming one.
So what happens when Sutter, too drunk to remember where he parked his car, is found passed out on someone’s lawn at 5 AM by Aimee, the prototypical nerd girl, while she is throwing her paper route?
Aimee is a good cause for Sutter to be involved in. She’s smart, but self-conscious and egoless. People, including her mom and her mom’s disgusting boyfriend, walk all over Aimee. Sutter thinks he is just the man to build up Aimee’s self-esteem, get her to stand up for herself, and find her a boyfriend. But as charming as he is, she’s sure to fall for him. Can she fix him? Or, in spite of all that he can do for her, is Sutter bad for Aimee?
High school housekeeping: The Spectacular Now has a lot of guy appeal, but girls will like it too. It’s not your typical teen love story, and it’s nice to have a break. It is a novel for mature readers because of its sexual frankness. I loved it for its realistic qualities—love stories end in many way and happily ever after can be many things. It’s nice to have an author of YA fiction who’s honest with teens. Plus, Tim Tharp is a very good writer—his work is the high quality that I (and other teachers) hope you’ll read regularly. Fortunately for you, Tharp is also entirely compelling. If you are a football fan—and lots of guys have been asking me for football books this year—Tharp also has Knights of the Hill Country. You might give it a try as well.