Adios, Nirvana

Posted on Jun 5, 2016 in BR Library

9780547577258By Conrad Wesselhoeft
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 240
Lexile: HL550L
Age Range: 14 Years

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.



A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book

“Wesselhoeft offers a psychologically complex debut that will intrigue heavy-metal aficionados and drama junkies alike. Peopled with the elderly and infirm, crazy parents, caring educators, and poignant teens trying desperately to overcome death’s pull, it mixes real and fictional musicians and historical events to create a moving picture of struggling adolescents and the adults who reach out with helping hands. Adios, Nirvana targets an audience of YAs who rarely see themselves in print.”

“At heart, Adios, Nirvana is everything I’d hoped The Catcher in the Rye would be…Adios, Nirvana is fresh, it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for Jonathan and I find myself really wanting to keep reading to see if he can successfully battle his demons. Laced with details into things teens are exposed to on a regular basis—drinking, suicidal thoughts, depression and music, most of all the music—I really loved every minute of Jonathan’s coming-of-age tale.”
—Roundtable Reviews

“The grief that drives 16-year-old poet and musician Jonathan often clashes with the forced zaniness of the supporting cast in Wesselhoeft’s moving but uneven debut. Since his twin brother, Telemachus, died, Jonathan has channeled his pain into award-winning poetry, but he is also on the verge of flunking out of school. His teachers give him one chance to make up for his missing work, on condition that he agree to perform his principal’s favorite song at graduation and take on a job writing the biography of David, a dying WWII veteran. The improbable plot isn’t helped by characters like Jonathan’s negligent and offbeat mother, who works as a bikini-clad barista and plans to turn their house into a wedding chapel, or stereotypically goofy Alzheimer’s patient Agnes, whose outbursts are too often played for humor instead of pathos. Jonathan’s caffeine- and taurine-fueled writing sessions and his conversations with David offer closure to his grief and a lifeline back to normalcy. But Wesselhoeft’s ability to deliver genuine emotion makes the book’s inconsistencies that much more frustrating.”
Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
—Publishers Weekly