School Library Journal

By Laura Glaser

The author, who is described as being a little on the geeky side and not too suave with girls, recorded his high school experiences between the ages of 15 and 18. These essays originally published in the New York Press and New York Times Magazine, now appear in this compilation. Vignettes do not necessarily lend themselves to a straightforward plot, so the fiercely intelligent and introspective Vizzini concentrates on style rather than action. His wonderfully sardonic voice, like Daniel Pinkwater’s in The Eduation of Robert Nifkin (Farrar, 1998), suggest a wisdom beyond his years. "The teen world is full of second prizes. Nobody wants to hurt our self-esteem." His timely secnarios include a Nintendo obession, Magic cards, a visit to ABC’s The View, and singular experiences with marijuana and alcohol. Echoing The Wonder Years, Vizzini’s adult self comments on his high school self by way of sidebars, which sometimes include Web addresses for more information. He comments on his lame attempt to sleep with his girlfriend during his senior year, "I felt so bad about being high-pressure that I became no-pressure, never discussing it, never bringing it up." Black-and-white cartoons interspersed throughout the text give the book a "zine" feel. This surefire title is bright, insightful, and thoroughly charming.