SAVE ME, KURT COBAIN by Jenny Manzer
Delacorte | March 8, 2016 ~ 272 pages | Buy it: IndieBound ~Amazon
Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn’t exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom’s wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won’t let go.
On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.
Kids are stupid. They do stupid things. When reading I often mentally yell at them. I tell them the sensible thing to do: “Go get Dumbledore!” But then I remember the stupid things I did as a kid. And I was the mature one, the responsible one. The one who was not abandoned as a preschooler by her wild child mother and raised by a quiet man of a father who didn’t express his feelings often.
Unlike Nico I didn’t grow up feeling like I had to convince everyone that I was “all right” or that there was nothing wrong with me even though my mother left me. So maybe I can cut Nico some slack for the incredible stupid things she does, and there are quite a few, to find her mom. Like running away to chase after a man she is sure is not only the not-dead Kurt Cobain, but also her real father.
At first I wasn’t sure I would be able to relate to Nico, but even while the parent in me was aching for the worry her stupid decisions were causing her dad, page by page, scene by scene Manzer pulled me into Nico’s longing, Nico’s rationale, Nico’s desires. And I cut her some slack, and I can even understand where she’s coming from, but maybe that’s because I too used to die my hair with Kool-Aid.
I worried he might bolt, disappear somewhere on the ship. I could not lose Cobain. It did not seem right to think of him as Kurt. I had known other Kurts but no other Cobain. In “Serve the Servants” from In Utero, Nirvana’s final album, Cobain professed to be bored and old, although he was till in his twenties. In his “suicide note” he wrote that the joy had gone from making music. I had never really believed that he killed himself, and now here he was, sailing away from Seattle, the city where he’d owned a large, drafty mansion with his wife.