Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.
After stealing Shelly’s ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly’s body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last “so Shelly” romantic quest. At least that’s what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly’s and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.
I really wanted to like this book. The premise sounds really interesting. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it.
Gordon drove me nuts. Ya know those Dos Equis commercials about the Most Interesting Man in the World? I HATE those commercials, but that is exactly what Gordon was. Everything he did turned to gold. Everyone loved him. But really he was a complete asshole. He was self centered and treated everyone around him like crap. I had zero respect for him and was frustrated that the book was almost completely his story. His sexual exploits grew pretty tiring after a while.
Shelly… part of me felt sorry for her and I did understand her more than the other characters. I didn’t get why no one intervened when she was obviously depressed – John, or a teacher, or someone.
And finally John. Sometimes I forgot that John was a character in the book and not just the narrator. He was just there, but not really involved in the story. The stuff about his family just seemed kind of random and unrelated to/unnecessary for the story.
Really, that’s another thing that bugged me about the book. Some of the stories just seemed so random and not necessarily related to the story as a whole. It kind of made the book feel disjointed. After reading the information about the real poets at the end, I do understand that the author was trying to incorporate many aspects of their lives into this story, but I don’t feel like it worked that well.
I did like that the writing wasn’t dumbed down just because it is a YA book. The author wasn’t afraid to use “SAT words” and I really appreciated that.