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.
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, Hardcover (February 2011), ISBN-13: 978-0385739580
Random House Children's Books, Paperback (February 2012), ISBN-13: 9780385739597
"...riveting... characters... the narrative offers a powerful dose of modern teen cynicism and yearning. Lurid yet Literary."
"...this first novel is lush and emotional, infusing the indulgences, idealism, sensuality, excess, and impulsiveness of the Romantics in a contemporary setting... there is certainly enough enticement here to lead teens back to the source material for a look at these fascinating characters."
"So Shelly is told by Keats, the confidante of both Gordon and Shelly, which makes for an absorbing plot... The smooth, playful writing style skillfully intertwines the stories of the protagonists. Roth has penned a contemporary story of three teenagers' coming-of-age that takes the reader on a turbulent journey... This novel... is one that teenage girls will thoroughly enjoy."
Amanda McFadden, VOYA
"It's possible that So Shelly (Delacorte) is the smartest YA novel you will ever read. The writing is sharp and edgy. The premise is intelligent and engaging. But the story? It'll blow you away... Roth attacks his topic with verve and without gloves. Sophisticated teen readers will enjoy So Shelly..."
"...there is, overall, great character development and depth. Pleasantly different from much of its genre and unique in premise and twisting of the poets, So Shelly blends the Romantic era with the present in a great way."
"So Shelly was a fantastic, romantic, and intense debut novel that weaves together the lives of three poets in a modern day setting. Romantic and complex, this is a book sure to appeal to older teens and even adults. Ty Roth has a fantastic writing style that pulls you in and doesn't let you escape until the final sentence. I've been anticipating this book ever since I read the summary and saw the gorgeous cover. All I can say is it did not disappoint in the least."
The Book Scout
Portuguese translation rights sold to Editora Novo Conceito for publication in Brazil
Mexican rights sold to Larousse Mexico