Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft
"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."- summary from Amazon

Before I start to get in too deep, the last sentence of the summary makes this book sound much more after-school special than it really is. This is a thoroughly realistic debut that doesn't sugarcoat anything and does a great job of dealing with Jonathan's emotions regarding his twin brother's death and the pressure he feels from everyone around him.

However, I will say there were times where I was thinking to myself "Oh my god, just get over it already and stop moping around!" but having not lost someone that close to me, I feel like I have no place to say anything.

I really loved the musical and poetic aspects of the novel because it made the character richer and more three-dimensional. But at the same time, Jonathan was so wrapped up in himself and his problems that the people most important to him (his friends and mother) kind of fell by the wayside, which meant way less characterization of them. The new people he meets at Delphi, a hospice, are given more room to be fleshed out.

The climax of the book seemed to be written almost stream-of-consciously and it just flowed so well. That's one thing I loved about the prose in the book- it was accessible but philosphical and just superb.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.


  1. my last stream of conscious book was THE CATCHER AND THE RYE. and I hated it. (just don't tell my teacher that ;)) Great review!

  2. Yan- LOL, well, it's only one chapter and it's just like stream-of-consciousness. That's just how it felt to me. :)

    I've never read Catcher and the Rye or most classics. I just read SparkNotes all through school, even at college. Yes, I was a bad English major. What of it? :P

  3. This is one of my fav books this year. The line that I loved from it, and carry in my heart is: “To live is to swim toward the shimmer. To die is to never try.”
    Glad you enjoyed it as well.

  4. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! It remains one of the best books I have read this year (even though I read it MONTHS ago) I thought that the choice of writing technique was brilliant. Relating grief through the mangled thoughts of a teenage poet was nothing short of beautiful!