Friday, April 10, 2009

Spectacular Now by Tharp

High School Senior Sutter seems to think that if he drinks enough everything will stop bothering him. He keeps a light buzz on during school and at work. He finds all the best parties every chance he gets and doesn't think twice about driving drunk. He is always the center of attention, always the best story teller, gets the best laughs. There is a little issue with his failing math grade but hey he can handle it and probably the teacher will give him a break. The boss at his part-time job has warned him about coming to work buzzed but Sutter figures no one can tell and he can handle the 7/7's he always carries with him and do the work. His girl friend leaves him for a different guy who, really isn't that in to drinking even though Sutter figures Cassidy is making a mistake and really likes him more. Sutter decides its up to him to help dateless kids get connected at parties and takes on Aimee, who is from a lousy home and is quiet and sweet. She is so taken by Sutter's interest in him that she believes they are in love. A car accident, failing math and not graduating, learning the truth about his father's leaving, losing his job, Cassidy's intervention on behalf of Aimee combined makes it look like he may straighten out, ever so briefly. This is a hard, sobering book to read. There is very little to like about Sutter. I couldn't even feel compassionate towards him. He is so relentlessly self-destructive. But, this book is on the teen best books list and is called a very accurate portrayal of a teen alcoholic. Don't expect teens heading down this path to see themselves and reform. Maybe people who care about such kids will realize the completely self-destructive trajectory and reach out to help them, maybe even successfully.
jdw 4/10

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