Recent Reads: The Spectacular Now (Book 29 of 2013)


I finished reading this book yesterday and I have to say that, for the first time in a long time, I read the majority of it within about 12 hours.
I started the book on Wednesday, but a series of events prevented me from digging into it until the weekend.
I’m hoping this doesn’t become a pattern…I’m still a book behind schedule and I don’t want to get further behind.

You may have heard of this book because it’s now a movie that is being released soon (I think it might be in limited release right now: check out the trailer over here) and got a lot of praise at Sundance. Once I heard this, I decided to read it, and it was finally available at the library.
Let me just say, this book is not what I expected.

Sutter Keely is our narrator. He is a care-free, fun-loving 18 year old high school senior. He has a beautiful girlfriend (though he isn’t afraid to do a little flirting with other girls) and starts (and rides through) every day with the help of whiskey and 7UP. Life is a party.
But when he gets dumped for his selfishness, he finds himself trying to find a way to get back in his ex’s good graces.
On a drunk excursion (for him, there really are no others), he finds himself waking up on the front lawn of a random house, with Aimee Finecky standing overhead, making sure he is alive. Sutter doesn’t realize, but Aimee is a classmate.
They end up striking a quick friendship, which Sutter feels he’s doing as a favor to her. She is  nerdy, shy, quiet, and he believes she needs help finding a boyfriend and being social. Eventually, she falls for him and he allows himself to become her boyfriend.

I say allows himself, because there’s never one significant moment in which Sutter reveals that he truly cares for Aimee.
It was really hard to like this character…I found myself alternating between feeling sorry for him and getting angry at him.
He’s an alcoholic and that rubs off on Aimee, who never really drank until he came along. He is still attracted to his ex-girlfriend, and spends time with her, assumedly hoping to get back together with her. He so clearly lies to himself about his life.
I do believe he loves her and, heck, everyone in his life. I believe he cares about his future. But because he’s the narrator, and he wants to suppress those feelings, we never really know for sure.

From the trailer alone, the movie looks like it’s going to focus a lot more on the relationship between Sutter and Aimee. I’m not saying he doesn’t care for her, but he doesn’t really allow himself to get too deep and that’s why it’s hard to take their relationship seriously. We are only reading it from his cocky perspective. Still, I think it’s kind of smart that it was written that way.
It’s not the usual your-love-changed-my-life story, or the happily-ever-after. 
It’s about the learning we do through our relationships, good or bad, romantic or familial.
It’s rough when you don’t always like the narrator of the book you’re reading, but it makes for an interesting reading experience.
I can’t wait to see the movie.

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