author's webpage:Here's a bit from the
High school junior John Keats was never a close friend of schoolmate and literary prodigy Gordon Byron. At his best and worst, Keats was a distant, envious admirer of Gordon's talents, fame, and "player" lifestyle. That changes when their mutual friend, Shelly, mysteriously drowns. After stealing Shelly's ashes, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie Island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where, according to Gordon, she wished to be returned. As they navigate 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 premature end.
Outrageous, poignant and in subtle homage to Lord Byron's classic Don Juan, SO SHELLY captures the indomitable spirit of Romanticism while confronting contemporary issues of sexuality, dysfunctional families, suicide, poverty, racism, alcohol and drug use, the hidden costs of popularity and fame, and friendship and while exploring themes of death, dying, grief, abandonment, abuse, and belonging.
Admittedly, it took me a while to get around to reading this book. For that, I'm profoundly sorry. But I can say that I really, really loved this book. I can't count the number of times that I laughed out loud while reading it. The author, Ty Roth, deftly mixes humor amongst the darker themes for a great balance. Keats is a funny fellow. He's a great narrator with keen observations. As the story of the three unfolds, the characters take shape. Gordon is the most colorful of the three and his character demands to stand out. He craves attention constantly. Keats is a pallid sidekick who pines for Shelly, but feels too inadequate in Gordon's wake to ever speak up. Shelly has her own unrequited love, only it's directed towards Gordon. We get to know her better as the story of their past gets revealed. Keats deep self examination throughout the book gives him more shape and as he evolves becomes quite endearing.
This was a lovely book and the info given at the end regarding the actual Keats, Byron and Shelley was extremely interesting. I thought that since I knew little of Keats, Byron and Shelley that may get in the way of enjoying this book. Not in the slightest though. It was a wonderful story with a very contemporary message about living in the now and being present in every moment. Something we can all use a little reminder about from time to time. I'm giving this one 5 shiny kisses!!