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The Spectacular Now & Youth

Read #2 of 2022

By Victoria BrownPublished about a year ago 3 min read
The Spectacular Now & Youth
Photo by James Baldwin on Unsplash

My favorite quote from Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now comes from the last page: “That’s the one-two punch right there, wanting to love and wanting to be loved” (pg 294). It’s hard to love at seventeen, eighteen, twenty-one, twenty-three. Harder to love when it’s one-sided, or stuck in the purgatory of living life and “what do I do now?”.

But The Spectacular Now isn’t a book about love. Not to me at least.

Sure, there’s relationships in the novel. Sutter and Aimee. Sutter and his parents. Sutter and the world.

But it isn't a novel about love.

I like The Spectacular Now. I’ve read it a few times, seen the movie once or twice. I might’ve even called it a “21st century Catcher in the Rye” - and we all know how much I loved that novel (re: the love letter I wrote to Holden Caulfield when I was seventeen). But it’s very high school.

The parties, the drinking, the girls, the falling out with your best friend during senior year. All very high school. And there’s beauty in that. Some see it as the end of the world and life is destined to be boring from there on out, but the ones who see it as a new beginning are the ones who get it.

Sutter sees every day as a new beginning. As God’s own drunk, he sees the beauty in day by day life despite his own qualms with it. Every day is a new chance and every stranger is a new best friend. There’s a beauty in that. Take away his excessive underage drinking, carelessness, and lying, and Sutter Keely could be a model citizen.

Much like Holden Caulfield, they are mad at the world to an extent. Holden’s a little more pessimistic for Sutter’s taste, but they could be friends.

Sutter thinks everything is spectacular. Everything has to be spectacular because life is going on around, and why shouldn’t life be spectacular?

I wish I had that blind optimism. I like to think I have that blind optimism, but I’m pessimistic to an extent, and more often than not, I make a room out of place when I try to be the life of the party, or simply just try to talk.

I’m no Sutter Keely. If anything, I’m the Aimee Finecky post Sutter Keely. I can talk to people, I can drink, I can stand up for myself. But I’m blind when it comes to love and relationships. To me, everyone could be “the one.” I fall too quickly at the first signs of attraction, and ignore the red flags and disillusionment. Three years post high school graduation, and I still am “very high school.” Maybe that’s why I still read (& write) YA fiction.

Both Sutter and Aimee are very high school naivety. Sutter believes he can save the world, save Aimee. And she believes she needs to be saved, and her savior is Sutter. There is blind trust in both situations. Believing you can only be loved through being saved is full of naivety. And hurt. And tears. And having your guard up until someone comes in and starts to wear it down for one reason or another.

There’s a lot to say about Sutter, and Aimee, and their lives before, during, and after their time together. There’s a lot to say about my life now, and how at twenty-one, I resonate with senior in high school Aimee Finecky. There’s a lot to say about the novel in general.

Maybe The Spectacular Now is a novel about love. Loving life. Loving youth. Loving being God’s own drunk. Loving embracing the weird. And somehow also being loved by life itself.


About the Creator

Victoria Brown

twenty-two & longing.

lover of words, tea, & antiques.

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