Author: Tim Tharp
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Synopsis: So, my girlfriend, Cassidy, is threatening to kick me to the curb again, my best friend suddenly wants to put the brakes on our lives of fabulous fun, my mom and big sister are plotting a future in which I turn into an atomic vampire, and my dad, well, my dad is a big fat question mark that I’m not sure I want the answer to. Some people would let a senior year like this get them down. Not me. I’m Sutter Keely, master of the party. But don’t mistake a midnight philosopher like me for nothing more than a shallow party boy. Just ask Aimee, the new girl in my life. She saw the depth in the Sutterman from that first moment when she found me passed out on the front lawn. Okay, so she’s a social disaster, but that’s where I come in. Yes, life is weird, but I embrace the weird. Let everyone else go marching off into their great shining futures if they want. Me, I’ve always been more than content to tip my whisky bottle and take a ride straight into the heart of the spectacular now.
Would I recommend? If you enjoyed the Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, this might be something you can look into.
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I went into this knowing nothing, expecting nothing. I don’t really know how I came about owning this book- like most of my know-nothing-expect-nothing books, I suppose I bought it off Book Outlet impulsively. Also, I don’t know why I decided to pick up a book I know NOTHING about while I was on the brink of falling into a dangerous other-worldly reading slump, but that’s how my idiotic mind works sometimes. If you couldn’t tell from my star rating, I did not enjoy this book. It’s very short, but I still found it difficult to get through it. And in case you’re wondering, yes, this was the book that pushed me into my reading slump.
Sutter Keely is a senior in high school; he’s the life-of-the-party, and everybody loves him because he’s a blast. He has a gorgeous girlfriend. Some would worry and maybe call him an alcoholic, but Sutter thinks he has his drinking under control. When things with his girlfriend start to go downhill, Sutter comes to know Aimee- a quiet, awkward girl. Out of sympathy, Sutter begins to hang out with this girl and before he knows it, he’s taking steps into their relationship that he never thought he would.
I think I’m growing too old for high school books. Even if a character is mature for his/her age, I can’t help but view him/her as immature and childish. I should stay away from books set in high school from now on. There wasn’t much plot in this book. We did get to explore some deeper themes, such as an absent father, neglectful mothers, social anxiety (briefly) and alcoholism. But it was such a short book that these themes weren’t given the attention they could have, so there wasn’t much depth to the book in general. I wish Sutter’s alcoholic tendencies were treated more seriously, but they were – for the most part – glossed over.
I thought the ending was very realistic, though. Tharp kept the book itself as close to reality as possible, and I can appreciate that. It just didn’t captivate me as much as realistic fiction usually does. However, the ending was unpredictable even though it was expected of the characters involved. It was not a cliché, and I enjoyed the ambiguity.
Like I said before, Tim Tharp does a great job of keeping things close to reality. His characters were very realistic. They felt like real people, and I could picture them vividly even though physical descriptions were minimal. I feel like we all know a Sutter Keely in our lives, and we all know an Aimee too. But even though the characters were realistic, the lack of history, the lack of chemistry and the lack of a cohesive, interesting plot didn’t do them any favors.
Sutter Keely, despite being realistic, was very unlikable. I thought he was an asshole for the majority of the time. He did most of the things he did for Aimee out of pity. Their relationship was based upon Sutter’s pity and him feeling sorry for her, and I don’t think that was healthy. I wasn’t invested in their relationship because of this reason. And because our protagonist viewed Aimee in this light, it was very hard not to feel sorry for her yourself.
I wonder if Tharp wanted Sutter to be as unlikable as he was. If he did, I fail to understand why that was necessary.
I don’t think Tharp is a bad writer. I just think this particular story and these particular characters failed to bring Tharp’s qualities into the light. Tharp is wonderful at establishing a strong voice. Like I said before, his characters felt very realistic. I’m willing to give his writing another shot, just because I think he has lots of potential.