Review: ADIOS, NIRVANA by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Posted 26 November, 2010 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 1 Comment

Final Grade: 93/A
YA Contemporary
240 pages
Available Now
Review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley
Rated PG-15

BLURB: 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.
REVIEW: Man, ADIOS, NIRVANA is raw, powerful and heartbreaking. Jonathan’s pain pulses off the pages, and he plays the tortured artist to the hilt. So much so that he’s toes-over the crumbling edge of failing eleventh grade. Luckily for him, he had people who want him to succeed and aren’t going to allow him to drop into the black pit of despair like he wants. Still, he does his best, starting with getting wasted, slipping off a bridge, and falling into his own puke (and this is just the first couple of pages). 

Including Jonathan himself, I really enjoyed the eclectic cast of characters: Jonathan’s friends, the “Thicks”, who reminded me of my brother’s group of high school friends. The principal and her love of cheesy music–it made me smile to think of her requiring Jonathan to play her favorite song at graduation (a song that’s eternally embarrassing to him) as part of his school rehabilitation. Mimi, Jonathan’s mom, who wasn’t much of a mother, though she tried. Ruby, Jonathan’s six-string Larrivee acoustic guitar, “…the only girl I put my arms around”. And the music itself–Nirvana, Eddie Vedder, the grunge scene, and heavy, dark rock music that lent to the overall atmosphere of the novel.

Filled with dark poetry, grief, and angst, ADIOS, NIRVANA delves into the bonds of brotherhood and friendship and doesn’t flinch. My only complaint is that I wanted more–more music, more poetry, and more of Jonathan (love the whole tortured-but-save-able artist vibe). A fantastic read. (Plus, don’t you just love the cover? It represents the novel so well.)

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