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ADIOS, NIRVANA by Conrad Wesselhoeft

ADIOS, NIRVANA

By Conrad Wesselhoeft

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-547-36895-5
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Seattle high-school junior Jonathan’s life has turned upside down since he won a major poetry contest shortly after his twin brother’s death. His hedonistic mother, who works at the Bikini Bean Espresso Drive-Thru, and his Thicks (friends) all try to support him, but he's just careening through life, fueled by Red Bull and No-Doz. Jonathan fears sleep, when he's caught in the memories and music he shared with the brother. A bizarre intersection of amusingly oddball characters finds him earning cash by writing the biography of a Hospice patient whose life has been scarred by his experiences in World War II. In prose as overwrought as the protagonist, the first-person narration touches on poetry, truth, music, friends and death. The suicidal fears that are evident from the first page ratchet up the tension. Through a slam-bang climactic graduation ceremony that includes a priceless guitar, Eddie Vedder and King Kong, the appeal of the constant jitters and manic life finally fade. It’s all kind of a mess, but at least it's a high-energy, appealing one. (Fiction. 14 & up)