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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Crazy About Kurt is a coming of age novel written by Will Link. Spring was in the air, and especially appreciated after a long, cold Long Island winter. As the seniors walked into Smithtown High School, there was an air of anticipation mingled with a bit of fear at a school year almost over, of an ending to life as it had always been. Some were excited about college plans; others wondered what they would be doing after the summer and without their friends around anymore. But this Friday, normally a day filled with the anticipation of Friday night and the weekend, came to a crashing end as the news swirled through the hallways -- Kurt Cobain was dead. T.J.’s meandering post-cigarette entrance was interrupted by a shrill scream as a girl registered the tragic news. When he asked her friend what was wrong, T.J. began to process the impact the news would have on his friends and, indeed, the whole school. Cobain and his group, Nirvana, were an integral part of their identity; the loss would resonate and disrupt classes throughout the day. He would come to think it somewhat bizarre that some of the grownups in school wondered if Cobain’s suicide would spark a trend of sympathetic suicides among the students.
Crazy About Kurt follows four friends as they navigate their Friday in school and Friday night, and come to terms with the loss of an icon. I found myself entirely absorbed in the interrelated stories of T.J., Matt, Jeff and Jackie and appreciated how the author built each character’s story and wove their Friday night adventures into a coherent whole. I’m quite familiar with Smithtown and Long Island and loved revisiting the area, especially those diners with their epic menus and opportunities for 24/7 noshes. Link’s characters are credible and come complete with flaws, foibles, hopes and desires. The monster party that Sage is hosting works wonderfully as the goal for each of them, and Jeff’s terrifying interlude as the involuntary driver for three strange kids adds tension and drama.
Anyone who’s grown up on the Island or even lived there for a few years will love this book and the deft touch the author has at making the area and the odyssey each character undertakes that night come alive at that moment of time in the 1990s. The musical and movie selections and the author’s filmmaking background make Jeff and Matt’s story resonate particularly well and add a screenplay feel to the work. And yes, I’d love to see this made into a movie; this debut novel is really something special. Crazy About Kurt is most highly recommended.