Book: Teen Angst? Naaah… A Quasi-Autobiography by Ned Vizzini
Details: Autobiography suited for young adults
Publishing Information: Published September 14, 2010 by Random House Children’s Books
First Sentence: I started writing this book because of my backpack.
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Ned Vizzini is just your average teenager, fighting everyday battles with school, parents, street people, rock bands, friends, fame, camp, sex (sort of), Cancún (almost), prom, beer, Nintendo, the New York subway system, and more.
With wit, irony, and honesty, Ned shares his take on high school conundrums, extracurricular disasters, and the big moments that adults inevitably manage to build up and sell short at the same time.
Written by the author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Be More Chill when he was nineteen, this collection of essays (in which names have been changed “so I don’t get yelled at”) never fails to bring out the humor and the truth of growing up.
“I NEVER THOUGHT I’D GET TO HIGH SCHOOL, BUT NOW THAT IT WAS IN SIGHT, I STARTED PLANNING. I WANTED TO CONQUER HIGH SCHOOL THE WAY I CONQUERED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.”
Cover Review: While this cover is pretty simple and certainly wouldn’t be labeled as “beautiful”, I actually quite like it! The craziness inside the outline of the head definitely represents the adventure that is this little book well, and I like that it kind of matches the cover of Ned’s other book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
I didn’t know quite what to expect going into this book. I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story last year and really enjoyed it. I didn’t know too much about Ned Vizzini’s life aside from the fact that It’s Kind of a Funny Story was partially based off of Ned’s experiences after checking himself in to a psychiatric hospital and I knew of the tragic way that his life came to an end.
I picked up this book, figuring that the best way to learn more about an author whose writing I really enjoy would be reading his autobiography.
I definitely did learn a lot from this autobiography. It was interesting to read about what Ned was like as a teenager while knowing that he would grow up to become an incredibly successful author. The book was filled with about 30 different short stories divided into five parts, ranging through different times in Ned’s life. The stories were quirky and funny, much like the narrative style I read in Ned’s other book.
The book also includes little asterisks and side notes throughout the work, like the ones you might find in John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines or Pseudonymous Bosch’s Secret Series. While I typically love unique touches like that in a book, I honestly felt like it was a little overdone. There was at least one every other page – if not every page – and sometimes two or three one page of narrative! While some of them were funny and added more to the story, all lot of them were just saying things like, “Guess what? The movie I made was found and can be watched at (web address)”, or references back to other short stories within the book, like, “Full details on this event can be found on (page numbers)”. It just broke up the flow of the book and eventually I stopped reading them all together.
The other thing that wasn’t necessarily disappointing but just different than I expected was that Ned doesn’t really talk at all about dealing with depression or writing in this book. Not that these are the only two things that defined him, but those were the only things that I already knew about him going into this book. As an aspiring writer I would’ve loved to read more about why he loved writing so much and how things that happened in his teenage years influenced his writing.
My favorite section of the book would have to be the last story/section, called “Post High-School”. I think that story is actually only included in the newest edition of the book (with the cover shown above), so I would definitely recommend getting that version if you’re planning on picking up the book. It was added on to the book a few years after the publication when Ned had published a few more books (including IKOAFS), and I thought it was fascinating to read about him reflecting back on the little essays, where he got his start.
While this read isn’t something that I’d look back on and think, “Man, that book added a lot to my life,” I am glad I read it. It was short and fun, and while I had some issues with it I thought it was fun to read an autobiography of an author, since an autobiography presented the perfect opportunity to experience more of his writing that I already knew I enjoyed and learn more about his life! If you have read and enjoyed Vizzini’s other books then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll enjoy this book as well, so maybe consider checking it out. If you haven’t read his other books you probably won’t get as much out of this book as you would if you had, but you still might like it! It’s definitely the most hilarious yet insightful autobiography I’ve ever read.