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Adios, Nirvana Hardcover – October 25, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up–Jonathan isn't sure he can survive in the wake of his twin's death after being struck by a Seattle bus. Telly's guitar talent and magnetism have cast a shadow that's hard for the high school junior to get out from under–how can a lifelong duet turn solo? While hanging with his “Thicks,” the tight circle of buddies he shared with his twin, he's focused on vodka-filled grapes, the immediacy of sensation, and an epic poem to his lost other half, but meanwhile he's dug himself a hole tough to climb out of in the remaining months of the school year. He has to use his own substantial talents as an award-winning poet to write the life story of a World War II vet dying in hospice and perform the principal's favorite song at graduation on a legendary guitar donated by rocker hero Eddie Vedder after Telly's death. What's more, his flaky mom bugs him to scrape and paint the house so that she can turn it into a wedding chapel. Through a scary lack of sleep and bursts of activity fueled by NoDoz and Red Bull, Jonathan grapples with finding his own singularity and sounds. By working with the blind veteran, whose story of loss resonates with and amplifies Jonathan's own survivor's guilt, he can better face his audience to perform with the grit of Telly's ashes sharing the limelight. Homage to poetry, music, friendship, and youth, this brash, hip story should attract its share of skater dudes and guitar jammers.–Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In the wake of his twin brother’s death, Jonathan, a former star student, is facing the possibility of repeating his junior year. The only things standing between him and failure are his devoted best friends, an understanding principal named Gupti, and his English teacher. The assignments that will ensure his promotion? Attend class every day, help an 88-year-old WWII veteran write his memoir, and perform Gupti’s favorite song, “Crossing the River Styx,” at graduation. 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. Darker and more complex than Jordan Sonnenblick’s thematically similar Notes from the Midnight Driver (2006), Adios, Nirvana targets an audience of YAs who rarely see themselves in print. Grades 8-12. --Frances Bradburn

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054736895X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547368955
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,536,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle VINE VOICE on September 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jonathan's lost the person closest to him, his twin brother Telly. He believes Telly, the leader of a band who is well liked, is the best of them. In his grief, he's nearly flunking out of his junior year drowning his sorrows in Red Bulls and abusing drugs. His 'thicks' (best friends) and the Principal are going to force him to make it through whether he likes it or not. Jonathan's required to do one assignment, write the biography of a dying WWII vet. In meeting David and helping him reconcile his losses, the hope is that Jonathan will come to terms with Telly's death.

I truly liked and appreciated the view of the Seattle grunge scene and the fact that for once, this YA didn't focus on a love story. The issues that Jonathan faces are monumental for any age. All the pressures of HS only make grieving worse. Jonathan was a tough character to come to terms with. He pretty much griped through everything he did. This is legitimate, everyone processes loss in their own way and whatever is comfortable for them. If you want to read a YA book which deals more positively with grief, see Green Witch. The protagonist of this tale lost her whole civilization and is working hard to help reclaim it.

The author has an amazing talent of turning inanimate objects into living, breathing parts of the story. "Ruby" the guitar was one of the most powerful voices in this tale despite her composition of wood and wires.

I have three issues with the story, thus the 4 stars:

First: I object to Jonathan and his 'thicks' using the word 'faggy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ginny Day on November 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read Adios Nirvana in a single sitting. I didn't mean to. I slid, unsuspecting, into this honest world where conventions of `should', dinner times, and school reports to write - are unimportant. I joined a sixteen year old boy dealing with the death of his twin brother - with music, with poetry, with Red Bull and with his `thicks' (friends through thick and thin). I came to understand young men of depth better than I did. I'll never again view their mute sullenness as willful. We live our lives fearing tragedy. Adios Nirvana tells us loss is inevitable, human - but it is survivable.
Although the sixteen year old protagonist says, "Everybody's wondering how can I arrange the daises and dandelions of my life into a better bouquet?" The answer is, you can't. Life is random. Life is absurd. Life is deadly. The bouquet arranges itself. And it doesn't always bloom or smell good."
The story promises that if we stop sleeping - and connect with another person without guile or defense - "Maybe we don't need to hit the duck. Maybe all we need to do is say what we must say once, to another human being, openly and honestly, with humility and remorse. Maybe that is enough."
Want more? A couple of adults save this young life, but not the way you'd expect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N., The BookBandit on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Telly has left a trail of devastation in the wake of his death. That trail is apparently ten times worse for his twin brother than it is for most. Jonathan not only lost his twin, his thickest thick, but he lost a part of himself. And since that moment Jonathan's world has come to a complete halt, leaving him in a dire state permanent grieving. Former prize student and award-winning poet, Jonathan is nothing more than skin and bones, a walking zombie fueled by NoDoz chased by Red Bull, and moonlit jam sessions with guitar goddess Ruby. Life is nothing but sweet taurine, and even sweeter Ruby.

Straddling the line between the living and the dead, Jonathan knows his thicks are right when they say that he has to accept Telly's death, move on, and start living once again. He doesn't know if or how he could do that, until he meets David Cosgrove II. David Cosgrove, journalist and war-time hero, has enlisted the help of Jonathan to write his memoir. Reluctantly Jonathan agrees, mostly because it gives him a free get out of jail free card.

But the more time he spends with David, and the more time he spends at the Delphi, playing for Agnes, fantasizing about Katie in her Beyonce-esque wig, the more life seems to make sense, the more he begins to see and understand his place in the world, or at least this world. And thanks to David Cosgrove II, the man who not only trusted and befriended him, but the man who taught him how to face fears, his own personal demons, and live a full life as best as he knows how - without Telly.

Fused with guitar riffs and raw emotion Conrad Wesselhoeft has created a story that is relatable, honest, and as realistic as realistic fiction could get. Set in grunge drive Seattle, Adios, Nirvana is a book that will fit any music taste.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Wallace on January 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
After the death of his twin brother, Telly, Jonathan is barely keeping it together. Not only is he dealing with the emotional aftermath of the tragedy, but he is also on the verge of failing his junior year. To keep that from happening, he agrees to go to class every day, help a dying 88 year-old World War II vet write his memoir, and learn, then play, his principal's favorite song (on a guitar Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder donated to his school in Jonathan's brother's honor) at the upcoming graduation ceremony.

At home, living on a diet of cereal, Red Bull, and NoDoz he has to paint the entire house as his mom transforms it into a wedding chapel.

The one significant thing the author does right is to express just how exhausting Jonathan's life is. All through the story, you are right there with him during his energy bursts and then trudging along when he is desperately tired but continues to go days without sleep.

The lack of sleep and the constant obligations can't help him to avoid the guilt he is feeling over his brother's death. As you read on, you desperately hope Jonathan finds some relief before he burns out.
The author surrounded Jonathan with a protective group of friends (his "thicks") and a principal and English teacher who encourage his gift for writing. These characters softened the story by taking the edge off the depression haze Jonathan is in a lot of the time.

Jonathan finally deals with grief as he visits the hospice where David, the war veteran he is writing about, is spending his remaining days. I did appreciate how the idea of overcoming your pain by having for others in the midst of their own pain became part of the story.

There was so much to appreciate about this book.
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