Book Review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (4/5)

12 Apr

I hadn’t heard of this book until I saw a short preview of the movie. I think I only saw the one preview but Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley together were enough for me to want to see it. And finding a copy at a used book sale made me determined to read the book first. I finally got to this book as an ebook but I finished it up on paper since I was sick of swiping so fast!

Cover image via Goodreads

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

The first thing you notice about this book is the strong narrative voice that Tharp gave Sutter. It took me a while to get used to it. He’s pompous, a bit arrogant, and drunk. Like, he’s always drunk. Which for a high school aged character was a bit concerning. I think Tharp tried to address this as a problem but Sutter is so smooth and confident that it came off like anyone could manage what he was doing, no problems. Once I got past the voice, I really started to like Sutter and the character grew on me. Aimee was sweet and it was interesting to see how she changed through the book. Once the two started dating, I had trouble putting the book down and powered through to the end.

I think the relationships between the characters was very telling of high school. Sutter reminded me of some of the kids from my school and I think everyone knew an Aimee. This made me think Tharp must have some kind of connection to this age group, either through work or his own children. He really seemed to understand the dynamics that kids that age experience but his writing shows great maturity.

As much as I hated him at times, Sutter was my favorite character. He had so many changes to be a deplorable human being and he almost never took them. He would make stupid decisions, but he didn’t do anything I would label as ‘bad.’ He usually had someone else’s best interests at heart when he needed to and he was honest about his faults. If you could get past the loud, abrasive outer shell, he was really sweet inside.

I think I was more like Aimee in high school. Early Aimee, not Aimee toward the end. I did have to learn to speak up for myself, but it didn’t involve the course Aimee had to take. I was shy and I thought more about the future than the present moment. I still do that. I don’t think it’s wrong, per say, but I understand that sometimes, you have to enjoy the moment you’re in. Aimee wasn’t able to enjoy being a high school Senior because she was worried about being a 35-year-old scientist. She needed someone like Sutter to give her some perspective on how to enjoy her life one day at a time.

Tim Tharp
Image via Rose State College

The first party Sutter and Aimee go to together was my favorite. I thought it showed both of their personalities really well and it showed how two people who are so different could still find something in common.

I didn’t like seeing some of the bigger changes that happened to Aimee after she started dating Sutter. Standing up for herself was one thing, but the amount of drinking she was doing was a bit frightening. Especially with her and Sutter driving around after having drinks or drinking while driving around. I thought this was a bit reckless for her and that part of her change really bothered me.


Sutter seemed to realize he was in Aimee’s life for a short time but he was going to make a big change in her life while he was there. She needed what he taught her, but he realized she didn’t need him long-term. I thought that was very big of him and I gained a lot of respect for him toward the end of the book. She was good for him, too. She pushed him to do things he was uncomfortable with and appreciate what he had. They were a great couple despite how different they were.

Writer’s Takeaway: As much as it took me some adjusting to get used to it, the narrative voice for this book was incredible. Sutter’s way of talking, word choice, and thoughts added to his character in ways Tharp couldn’t do otherwise. I’ve written a piece with a strong voice and it’s really challenging. I did it for a short story. I’m not sure I could do it for a novel. I wonder if Tharp’s other books are written like this and if so how similar they are. I’m really impressed.

This was an unexpected surprise for me and I’m so glad I read it. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.


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Related Posts:
The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp | Musings and Books
Tim Tharp – The Spectacular Now | One Way or an Author
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp {Book Review} | Tempest Books
Book Discussion: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp | Reads by Mandm


7 Responses to “Book Review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (4/5)”

  1. Laurel-Rain Snow April 12, 2018 at 10:53 AM #

    I enjoyed this book. I had seen the movie first; Shailene Woodley is an amazing actress, so I enjoyed her character a lot. Glad you liked it.


    • Sam April 12, 2018 at 12:23 PM #

      It was hard not to picture Woodley and Teller as I read it but I think the casting was right on. Glad you liked the book. Happy reading!


  2. Aila @ One Way Or An Author April 13, 2018 at 2:34 PM #

    Thanks for the feature, and awesome review!


    • Sam April 13, 2018 at 2:40 PM #

      Thank you! I know there are always other opinions so I like to share them. Happy reading!


  3. Hunida April 13, 2018 at 4:34 PM #

    Another book I’ve never heard of that’s being turned into a film! Sounds like a really good one, adding it to my TBR! 😄


    • Sam April 13, 2018 at 4:43 PM #

      The movie came out a few years ago, I’m so behind haha. Happy reading!



  1. Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger (3/5) | Taking On a World of Words - December 29, 2020

    […] from the internal dialogue (or storytelling) we get from him. It reminded me of Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now. It is a great way to tell about a character with a strong personality and sense of self. I think […]


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