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So Shelly [Kindle Edition]

Ty Roth
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the 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 tragic and premature end.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

TY ROTH teaches literature and composition at both the high school and university level. He has studied the Romantic poets and enjoys teaching his students about them. He holds a Sociology degree from Xavier University and a Masters of English Literature from the University of Toledo. He lives with his family in Sandusky, Ohio, along the shores of his much-loved Lake Erie.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


It was the last day of school and the first day of summer. One of those limbo days, when you're not quite sure if you're ending or beginning. Either way, my junior year was over, and I hoped I'd never see another one like it. However, there was one more thing Gordon and I had to do before I could put the year fully to rest.

The gym was hotter than hell, but Gordon leaned back, as cool as ever, in one of the ungodly uncomfortable metal folding chairs that were arranged in a semicircle around a makeshift altar on which rested a black marble urn containing the ashes of our mutual best friend, Shelly. Gordon's plan was to steal the urn, drive to Shelly's, break into the pool shed where she'd kept her beloved boom box, shoot over to the island in one of Gordon's powerboats, and then spread her ashes while playing her favorite song from a disc she had bequeathed to me prior to her death. Not much in the way of funeral tributes, but all so Shelly.

According to Gordon, it was what she wanted, which, I know, leads to the question: Why would a healthy eighteen-year-old have thought to share her final wish at all, unless, of course, she knew her death was imminent? And if Gordon knew her demise was coming, why didn't he tell me? It seems obvious now; most things do in retrospect. But since Gordon and Shelly had been friends and neighbors for their entire lives, I figured her final wish had been the product of whimsical childhood speculation, protected by a secretly sworn pact. Shelly was a dreamer like that, full of "What if?'s" and "If only's."

Even if I had thought to ask the right questions at the appropriate times, the answers would have come too late to change the outcome. Anyway, even knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have changed a thing.

In theory, Gordon's plan was simple. In execution, it was not.

Trinity's gymnasium was packed for the early-evening wake with awkward teenage mourners--awkward, of course, because, while most present had flushed a goldfish or two or lost the occasional grandparent, few had attended a wake for someone their own age. Shelly's death was doubly aberrant, considering how extraordinarily alive she had always been--so alive that even the memory of her felt more vibrant than the breathing bodies that sat all around me. I, however, felt right at home. In just the past two years, I'd attended funerals for both of my parents, and Tom was, as I've said, not far behind.

Due to Shelly's fall-semester expulsion from Trinity, the school's administrators had hesitated to grant her father's request for the use of the gymnasium, which was the only venue large enough in all of Ogontz, Ohio, to accommodate the large outpouring of young mourners. I've learned that although there is a seemingly endless list of indiscretions that one may perform without being excommunicated from Trinity--including exposing yourself to a junior varsity cheerleader, screwing your English teacher, and stealing and consuming communion wine from the school chapel, all of which Gordon committed with relative impunity--writing a measly five-hundred-word essay on the necessity of atheism that, against all odds, gets published in the "My Turn" section of Newsweek is not on it. It was only Mr. Shelley's record of consistent and generous donations that convinced the administration to allow the wake to take place on school grounds.

But his donation, of an amount that only he, God, and Monsignor Moore (the pastor at All Saints Catholic Church) knew, was not an act of selfless grief. The public wake at Trinity was a transparent ploy by Shelly's father to keep her friends (think Gordon) away from the official funeral services. A members-of-the-family-only gathering was planned for the next evening at their home, with a funeral mass at All Saints scheduled for the morning after.

Like Gordon's, Shelly's family lived on a peninsular strip of beach-lined property that juts into Lake Erie, separating the lake from the Ogontz Bay. Locals call that strip the Strand. Seasonal residents from nearby Cleveland and Toledo, and from as far away as Columbus, Cincinnati, and Detroit, populate the majority of the sprawling lakeside mansions during the summer, but a handful of Ogontz's gentry call Acedia, a gated community on the Strand, home. The ultra-exclusive subdivision was intended to be named for Arcadia, the idyllic rural region of southern Greece, but when the wrought iron gate with the subdivision's name artistically rendered across the top arrived misspelled, no one bothered to have it corrected or to look up the meaning of "acedia," which is "spiritual or mental sloth."

Most of the "mourners" had hardly known Shelly, but it's hard to resist any chance for drama or dressing up when you're a teenager in Ogontz. And drama there was.

Shelly's disappearance and the subsequent discovery of her body, washed ashore on a small Lake Erie island, had earned her the sort of attention that nothing in her lifetime ever had. Several national cable networks had sent reporters and camera crews, intrigued by what they called Shelly's "socialite" family and her connection to Gordon, but the reporters immediately lost interest when foul play was eliminated and her death was ruled an accidental drowning. (Each year, fewer than 3 percent of all deaths of teenagers between the ages of fifteen and nineteen are caused by accidental drowning.) The cameras immediately moved on to their next fatality, this one having been bled dry. (A Class IV hemorrhage, which involves the loss of more than 40 percent of a person's blood, often results in one's bleeding to death.)

Despite the whirring of my mind and the turning of my stomach, I sat relatively still and looked around me. Even with the ceiling exhaust fan humming, the humidity inside the gymnasium refused to vacate the premises, as if its stultifying presence were necessary for the somber occasion and it felt obligated to fulfill its solemn duty.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1213 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385739583
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004EPZ6I8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,224,825 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book release of the year by far! February 15, 2011
By jcl5150
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If this doesn't win the award for best book of the year, there ought to be an investigation! So Shelley by Ty Roth is one of the best novels I have ever read. I was lucky enough to obtain an ARC of the book and finished reading it about a month ago. The story that unraveled in those pages has been haunting me ever since. Everyone that reads this book will see a little piece of themselves in one of the main characters, and the experience will most likely be one that shakes you to your core. The novel is a breath of fresh air to a YA genre that has become overblown with supernatural-type romance novels that are just so much pablum. Thank you Ty Roth for writing a YA novel with depth, intelligence, and heart that challenges the reader in ways not seen since The Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird! I predict that within a year, Roth will be one of the biggest names in publishing! You heard it here first!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read February 9, 2011
Byron and Keats are thrown together by the death of their mutual friend Shelly. Byron and Keats have never exchanged much by way of greeting and hanging out, the only thing they feel they have in common is Shelly. She has bestowed upon them the duty of stealing her ashes from her wake and bringing them to her favorite place to scatter them while playing her favorite songs. On their journey Keats and Byron recount the many memories of Shelly that they have. Interspersed through their journey Keats pens down relevant stories to help grow the characters of Byron and Shelly. This whole novel was "written" by Keats as he looks back at this journey with a boy he never really knew, except through Shelly's adoring tales of him.

This was a very interesting book. It was neat seeing Byron's misdeeds translated into the 21st century. I especially love that Byron wrote a bestselling vampire novel, which was aptly titled after a supernatural poem that he actually penned, Manfred. A vampire novel is very swoon-worthy right now, which better sets up Byron as a girl-crazed sex bomb. Ty Roth did a most excellent job penning a romantic novel about three romantics. Shelly was completely and hopelessly tragic and never saw any of the good that came from her outbursts of protest, or writing. She was certainly an entertaining character in this novel though, even though we never actually get to hear from her, she is so alive in Byron and Keats stories, that you almost forget that she has been dead this whole novel. Keats was perfectly aloof which I imagine the real Keats often was. He was very obsessed with his writing and seemed to only want to be a well-known writer. I thoroughly appreciated how much research and knowledge must have gone into penning this novel. Though as Ty Roth said of his novel; "...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The New Face of YA Lit March 15, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Many things can be said about So Shelly. First and foremost, I must applaud Roth on his debut novel. As a student of literature, I have been told time and time again that great authors choose each word carefully, with meaning and purpose behind each choice. Roth displays this masterfully, with wonderful craftsmanship of his words from start to finish. While putting his verbal skills on display, Roth employs unique word choice throughout the novel. However, while some authors leave their readers in the dark with verbose language, Roth uses his to further illuminate the story to his readers. As far as the book itself goes, the highest compliment I can pay it relates in large part to my youth. As a young reader, 23, I can say that I have never before read a book that gave me so many knowing laughs, smiles, and smirks. So Shelly very accurately captures the essence of what it is like to be young, living in a socially and morally challenging world. Some may view the events of this novel or the choices made by the characters as "mature" reading for young adults, while young adults may simply view it as par for the course. Regardless of interpretation, this pull-no-punches approach to adolescent life is appreciated and respected. I eagerly await the next text from this supremely talented author.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Shelly February 8, 2011
By Nana
Enigmatic and complex as the hero's life the story is inspired by, So Shelly marks a new phase in the "re-telling" line. So Shelly narrates what life could be in the lives of some of history's biggest poets in an actual world if they were teenagers: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and John Keats. A fascinating aspect from Ty Roth's literary debut is that this author utilizes this complex gamma of characters already existent in history and events from their lives being part of the plot, adding a complex touch in their characterization. This allows the readers to know them by history "per se ", however it carries along a mystery aura. Roth is not opting for the simple line and the topics the novel involves are branded susceptible as dysfunctional relationships, obsession, sex, drugs, incest and others. This makes the story stand out in the fields it's been worked at since without such elements the author cannot be loyal to his characters, for they are based in real complex characters. So Shelly's premise is one of the most original and intriguing I've seen in a long time, certainly there is nothing similar in its market. Roth re-constructs re-telling with its debutant proposal. So Shelly, the story of some ancient literature heroes made new delivered by pure good literature engineering.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsuitable for kids; not compelling enough for adults
I wish there was a 1.5 star option. I saw this in the library and remembered it was an option that I considered when I won a free book a while back, so I picked it up. Read more
Published on September 7, 2012 by Autumn
2.0 out of 5 stars Characters Missing The Ability To Draw Me In
So Shelly jumps back and forth between the past and present, is told by Keats, and is mainly about Gordon and his exploits. Read more
Published on August 27, 2012 by Book Sake
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific debut
Ty Roth's SO SHELLY doesn't read like a first novel. It pulls the reader in from the first page, mostly due to the vividly-created characters, particularly Gordon, whose blend of... Read more
Published on November 27, 2011 by Tracy Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I may be a little biased because the author was my English teacher in High School, but Mr. Roth's So Shelly was a great book! I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published on September 28, 2011 by LizzyMcGuire
1.0 out of 5 stars Eww
SPOILERS: In one word: E[...] I tried to like this book. I really did. I even actually kinda liked it for the first chapter or so... Read more
Published on September 14, 2011 by Emily
3.0 out of 5 stars A sad story for sad characters
Gordon & Keats would never have been acquaintances, let alone friends, if it weren't for Shelly. So when she turns up dead in an apparent sailing accident, the two boys are thrust... Read more
Published on August 11, 2011 by Laura R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Literature
Why I read this: Cover lust really. I was like ooo pretty. And I really cannot resist a debut novel, for sure. Read more
Published on July 25, 2011 by Kristen M. Harvey
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This book would make one heck of a life time movie. It was written beautifully. The characters were well describe and the plot... well the plot is not only graphic but destructive. Read more
Published on June 6, 2011 by Savannah (Books With Bite)
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting twist on historical material
So Shelly by Ty Roth
Delacorte Press, 2011
319 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Summary: Drawing on the Romantic poets... Read more
Published on May 8, 2011 by bookworm1858
5.0 out of 5 stars I hope there is a sequel...
This is a beautifully written novel based loosely on the lives of three of the world's most profound poets. Read more
Published on March 29, 2011 by AnnBradyKaufman
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More About the Author

Ty Roth is a teacher of literature and composition at both the high school and university levels. He is the author of literary novels for mature young adults and all readers interested in examining the lives of young people through the lens of realistic fiction. Born, raised, and still residing in Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, his Midwest roots and life along the Great Lakes play a prominent role in his storytelling. Owning a bachelor's degree in Sociology and two master's degrees in Education and English Literature, his stories skillfully intertwine his fields of academic interest. He is married to Julie Roth and is the father of three sons: Taylor, Travis, and Tanner.


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