[Book Review] The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

The Spectacular NowThe Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An impartial review would have me giving this 4 or 4.5 stars over 5. The Goodreads rating system being what it is (‘I loved it’ ‘I really liked it’ ‘I liked it’ and so on), lets me give it 3, for an ‘I like it’.

It didn’t take much to suck me in. I liked the simple writing style and Sutter is an engaging character without being annoying. I was expecting this to be about self-discovery, about hope, about learning to live with yourself–screw-ups, flaws and all, about change (and I do like my stories with round characters, characters that change or try to do so) so I truly didn’t expect this to end the way it did. Especially since there was this wonderful, ultimate high near the end of the book, where you think finally, this is it, this is THE turning point.

So when I realized I had come to the end of the book and not just a trial to get to the big finish, I was confused. The whole set-up was built for him to grow–sadly he didn’t maintain it.

I do get that if Sutter was real, this is the realistic ending for him. I guess I just feel a bit cheated, since it’s a story and the drive home from his father’s felt like a stunning emotional climax, the cusp of change. His conversation with Aimee after the ordeal on the highway left me in tears but I understood why it had to happen because he was finally growing. Except it turns out we were just getting taken for a ride.

In the end, it all boiled down to nothing. Nothing except more stories for Sutter to tell. It’s frustrating, in a way. To see and feel everyone give up on your main character and for the main character to give up on someone that could and truly wanted to help him.

Ok, maybe not nothing. Maybe Sutter did grow, he did learn to accept that people could love him and that he could be loved back. I guess the optimist in me, buried as deep as she is, just wished that that revelation would have helped him try to control his alcohol intake. Because he does have potential to be so much more than what he’s choosing to be.


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