Dear Mr. Tharp,
Several weeks ago (I’m sorry, I’ve been incredibly busy—-it has nothing to do with the readability of your book), I picked up THE SPECTACULAR NOW because I heard it mentioned somewhere online. As someone who writes boycentric YA, I’m always eager to read said books to gain insight into voice, character and general writing style. I like to think of it as research.
When I began THE SPECTACULAR NOW (which henceforth will be referred to as TSN for ease of discussion, if you don’t mind), I had every intention of being judgemental toward Sutter Keely. His lifestyle is questionable at best, and I wanted to dislike him for it. While many teenagers experiment with alcohol, Sutter is openly excited about it, almost ignorant of its powers, gleeful regarding the way he uses it, even. That was not kosher in my books, Mr. Tharp.
But by page two, he’d drawn me into his totally unapologetic world and made me adore him. And I fought it, believe me. He wouldn’t have been anyone I’d choose to associate with, especially in high school, but there was something deep and resonant and gorgeous about this character that went light years beyond who he was on the surface. With every girl he charmed into buying him alcohol, with every adoring stare he gave to his fantastically beautiful fat girlfriend, and with every lament he had about his best friend Ricky’s state of continuous singledom, I wanted to know more. His dark humour and ease with his own existence grew the more I read. He was far from perfect, but one of the most alive, most genuine people I’ve come across, either in books or real life. He was utterly spectacular.
Of course, once he encountered Aimee Finicky, he burst out of the pages and engulfed every thinking moment of my days. I couldn’t wait to see how he would fall for this girl, hoped for it with every cell in my body and at the same time, wanted it to take forever so I could relish it. I can honestly speak for every slightly nerdy, awkward, non-supermodel that ever lived—Aimee Finicky was exactly us. And that’s okay, because she had Sutter Keely in her life. I only wish we’d all had one, drinking problem and all. Is that pathetic? I hope not.
Thank you for writing such a beautiful, honest, unapologetic look at the life of the average teenager in TSN. I never laughed so much or felt such brilliance come from the pages of a young adult novel before, and I can only hope one day I might express such insight in my own writings. You’ve just set the bar, Mr. Tharp, and it’s beyond the stratosphere.
P.S. While this is my love letter to the author, my book review can be found over at the YA Buccaneers site here. (Oh, and there’s video!)