Monday, May 25, 2015

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

"The best books, they don't talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you'd always thought about, but that you didn't think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you're a little bit less alone in the world."

All good things come to an end. In Tommy Wallach's We All Looked Up, four students from different cliques are thrown together while struggling to deal with the impending death of not only themselves, but all of humanity. Peter is the jock, Elizabeth is the slut, Anita is the nerd and Andy is the slacker. What is the point of living when we're all just going to die in the end? Two months before asteroid Ardor hits earth, these students must look within themselves to find the answer.

We All Looked Up is a story about love, loss and the lessons we learn from embracing all that life offers. Wallach's debut novel is one of my all-time favorite reads because it embraces so many ideas from philosophy, religion and even music. (Wallach himself is a singer/songwriter from Brooklyn and is releasing an EP album based on characters from his novel.) We All Looked Up is truly a treasure; I finished the book in less than a day, yet Wallach forced me to confront unanswered questions about myself and what makes my life meaningful.

One of the themes that kept popping up throughout the novel was the Roman phrase, "Pyrrhic victory" which means that if you win something, you have to lose something as well. The four teens battle a Pyrrhic victory themselves during the last two months of their lives: is it worth it to win the small battles even if you lose so much that you haven't really won anything at all? What is music, art, poetry, sports, food, even love worth in the face of approaching death?

Wallach throws the reader into a whirlwind of mysteries about life that have yet to be answered; his book is philosophical, alarming, eye-opening, numbing and overall thought-provoking. However, what the four students realize by the end of the novel is that the true victory in this strange battle called "life" is realizing that even in the face of imminent death, one can find comfort in those around them. After finishing Wallach's novel, I closed the book feeling that same sense of comfort.

"You don’t wanna go out of this world with regrets. If there’s something you want to do, you do it. You take this life by the balls and you tell it that you existed."

Rating 5/5