My literary fervor for Salinger’s quintessential adolescent classic in The Catcher in the Rye and enthusiasm for Chbosky’s interpretation of the perplexed mind of a youth in Perks of Being a Wallflower, I am hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend Jesse Browner’s Everything Happens Today. In fact, when I saw a critic comparing this book to Salinger’s, I cringed. It’s entertaining but its overly modern and up-to-date tone dampens my expectations of experiencing a full literary journey into the worlds and thoughts that are nearly unreachable in reality. The plot is there, but the words fail to provoke my mind.
Wes is an ordinary boy, who goes to an ordinary school in New York, who lives an ordinary life. (Of course, it has to be ordinary so that any sophomoric upheaval can make an entrance and ruin his life.) He tries to play the good son and big brother in his rather dysfunctional family, and strives to keep his teachers content while.
Wes’ juvenile curiosity leads to having sex with a girl he does not love. Regret and remorse immediately permeates his fragile mind, and he spends an entire day distracted and beat. He can’t lock his mind into it much longer because he has a Tolstoy essay due the following Monday. On top of that, he constantly bickers with his father while trying to take care of his terminally ill mother. He seeks hope and balance from the innocence he sees in his younger sister. Personally, these occurrences are quite ordinary. But the author tries to highlight the immensity of events by packing it all into a single day. The emotional roller coaster between vulnerability and salvation that Wes experiences in a single day is how Browner perhaps wanted to represent the unpredictable nature of teenagers.
Lately, I’ve been basking in the warm feeling of optimism in this quote: just when you think it can’t get any worse, it can, and just when you think it can’t get any better, it can. As Wes rummaged through the day to resolve his issues, I couldn’t help but think that it could only get better. Unfortunately, my feeling towards the book hasn’t gotten any better. It’s not bad; just not good enough to be compared to the classics.
dee’s recommendation: 3/5