The Spectacular Now – Tim Tharp



This National Book Award Finalist is now a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller.

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.


My interest was piqued after reading the synopsis. It was doubly-piqued when I noticed it was being turned into a movie. It was an interesting read, but sadly, not everything I had hoped.

This book was tragic. Sutter had so many issues — Daddy issues, love issues, trust issues, alcohol issues, and school issues. Aimee helped him grow, and he helped her grow. A lot was wrong with their relationship and their lives, and it didn’t really help that things didn’t improve. A lot was left hanging in the air. A lot of the problems continued to exist. And at the end… well, they still existed. I started the book intrigued to learn how Sutter would change, and left it feeling defeated. Sutter had given up. He had changed throughout the book, but not in ways that mattered. He faced some demons only to leave with an even greater, almost overwhelming sense of sadness.

I’m concerned for Aimee. After reading about the “sad ending,” I spent the whole book in anticipation of her committing suicide or something drastic like that in the event that Sutter fully expressed his intentions with her. But don’t worry, nothing like that happens. You have to wonder though, what will happen if she ever receives that email.

I wish there was more to Ricky, too. He abandoned his friend in favour of his girlfriend. Yes, this happens in real life. But it’s sad nonetheless.

Cassidy’s story seemed to be one of settling, and settling down. She wound up happy, or at least managed to convince herself that she was. That happens a lot in real life too — and it’s sad.

The premise of this book was interesting. A lot of the time, personalities like Sutter are portrayed as comical side characters. I’m glad that we got to see inside his head to understand some of his (more ridiculous) actions.

This book wasn’t particularly splendirifious (it took me pretty long to get through it), but it was fresh and hit almost a little too close to reality.

Related Reading

  • The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • Where She Went – Gayle Forman
  • Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 3.5/5


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