cover image Teen Angst? Naaah: A Quasi-Autobiography

Teen Angst? Naaah: A Quasi-Autobiography

Ned Vizzini. Free Spirit Publishing, $12.95 (200pp) ISBN 978-1-57542-084-4

In his first book, 19-year-old Vizzini recounts his comical and intelligent, if not particularly penetrating experiences as a teenager coming of age in New York City. The first section covers highlights from junior high school, followed by one section each for his four years at Stuyvesant High School. Each showcases such universal and humiliating hurdles as vacationing with parents and preparing for the prom. Readers get a real sense of Vizzini through his stories (one especially insightful chapter describes his painstaking preparations for the high school admissions test) and some clever marginalia (e.g., ""I'm skinny now, but over 50 percent of American men end up overweight, so I'll probably be fat later on""). He's gifted but gawky, adventurous yet filled with anxiety. Most of all, he shows a real talent for self-deprecating humor (""Being a cheap and petty person, I was shocked at how expensive the modern prom is""). However, some essays that could have meaning for many readers fall short on the follow-through: for example, the author talks about filling out a college application, but never discusses how he made his final decision about where to attend. Chapters about buying a Nintendo system or attempting to produce a video for cable access television are entertaining, but don't pack much punch. Readers will likely laugh at Vizzini's awkward antics, but may not find them particularly memorable. Ages 13-up. (Aug.)