Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Usually, poets have a grasp on the darker side of life. And 16-year-old poet Jonathan's definitely on the dark side: his twin is dead, he's flunking out of school, he can't sleep,and jumping off a bridge seems like a great solution.

Jonathan's offered an ultimatum - to pass this year's classes and become a senior, he'll have to perform some custom-tailored tasks. His "thicks" are there to help, and along the way he makes new friends in unlikely places.

It's a pretty fast read, and dark in a good way. As a poet, Jonathan explains his musical expression well enough that, even though I don't play, I understood the emotion (guitarists will love this book). His agony over Telly's death is very real, and as the story goes on his new friendships reveal as much as the life-long "thicks." Eventually, learning old stories helps Jonathan move on to new, fresh ones.

I can't say enough good things about this book, and I'd love to see it as a teen discussion title. Themes of friendship, artistic pain, drug abuse (although mild, and legal - maybe more "misuse"), grief, and music could make for a phenomenal conversation.

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