SO SHELLY plunges the reader into uncharted territory as it transposes romantic poets John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley into present-day high school students. Though forwarded in time by two centuries, many events in the narrative have been „ripped from the headlines” of the principal characters’ lives and placed in a modern milieu, and all of their personalities are as true to the characters’ own as one can reasonably draw them based on academic study; nevertheless, even the reader who doesn’t know a jot about the Romantic poets is in for a thrilling read.
High school junior John Keats was never a close friend of schoolmate and literary prodigy Gordon Byron. At his best and worst, Keats was a distant, envious admirer of Gordon’s talents, fame, and „player” lifestyle. That changes when their mutual friend, Shelly, mysteriously drowns. After stealing Shelly’s ashes, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie Island where Shelly’s body had washed ashore and to where, according to Gordon, she wished to be returned. As they navigate 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 premature end.
Outrageous, poignant and in subtle homage to Lord Byron’s classic Don Juan, SO SHELLY captures the indomitable spirit of Romanticism while confronting contemporary issues of sexuality, dysfunctional families, suicide, poverty, racism, alcohol and drug use, the hidden costs of popularity and fame, and friendship and while exploring themes of death, dying, grief, abandonment, abuse, and belonging.