Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Friday, June 11, 2010

"When you piss off a bridge into a snowstorm, it feels like you’re connecting with eternal things. Paying homage to something or someone. But who? The Druids? Walt Whitman? No, I pay homage to one person only, my brother, my twin. In life. In death.

Since the death of his brother, Jonathan’s been losing his grip on reality. Last year’s Best Young Poet and gifted guitarist is now Taft High School’s resident tortured artist, when he bothers to show up. He's on track to repeat eleventh grade, but his English teacher, his principal, and his crew of Thicks (who refuse to be seniors without him) won’t sit back and let him fail.

I just finished The Sky Was Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, which is about a girl grieving the death of her older sister. This novel is about a boy grieving after the death of his brother. So they are essentially about the same thing - the loss of a sibling (siblings who both characters lived in the shadow of) - and I found it fascinating the way the two stories and two protagonists and two authors dealt with the same theme. Lennie, the narrator of The Sky Was Everywhere, dealt with her loss with a new romance and becoming close to her family again - in this novel, Jonathon has quite a different journey. The greatest element, to me, was his frienship with the man whose biography he was asked to write - all of the scenes with him were brilliantly written.

At times I found Jonathan to be quite an alienating character - I'm not sure whether it was the writing style, or the intention of the author, but he seemed to me quite superior at times, as if he knew better than everyone else. That's probably quite representative of teenagers (*ducks, avoids tomatoes*) but every now and then the character would say something (something sexist, or ageist, or just stupid) and I thought, if you were real, I would smack you upside the head about now. But there was a lot of voice and a lot of attitude to this character, which I liked. He was no Bella Swan. The other characters, too, were fantastic - everyone was brilliant (I really felt as if I knew Telly, even though he was dead for the entirety of the book). I loved it and I hated it and the fact that I had such an emotional response to it means it must be fantastic.

Strongly recommended if you like books with a musical or poetic theme, and a very snarky narrator. I think this novel could be equally enjoyed by both teenaged girls and boys.

Released October 25th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Adios, Nirvana on Amazon
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