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How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater

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A deliciously funny romp of a novel about one overly theatrical and sexually confused New Jersey teenager’s larcenous quest for his acting school tuition. It’s 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside of Manhattan. Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller–type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and misch A deliciously funny romp of a novel about one overly theatrical and sexually confused New Jersey teenager’s larcenous quest for his acting school tuition. It’s 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside of Manhattan. Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller–type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief. The fun comes to a halt, however, when Edward’s father remarries and refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Juilliard. Edward’s truly in a bind. He’s ineligible for scholarships because his father earns too much. He’s unable to contact his mother because she’s somewhere in Peru trying to commune with Incan spirits. And, as a sure sign he’s destined for a life in the arts, Edward’s incapable of holding down a job. So he turns to his loyal (but immoral) misfit friends to help him steal the tuition money from his father, all the while practicing for his high school performance of Grease. Disguising themselves as nuns and priests, they merrily scheme their way through embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, and blackmail. But, along the way, Edward also learns the value of friendship, hard work, and how you’re not really a man until you can beat up your father—metaphorically, that is. How I Paid for College is a farcical coming-of-age story that combines the first-person tone of David Sedaris with the byzantine plot twists of Armistead Maupin. It is a novel for anyone who has ever had a dream or a scheme, and it marks the introduction to an original and audacious talent.


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A deliciously funny romp of a novel about one overly theatrical and sexually confused New Jersey teenager’s larcenous quest for his acting school tuition. It’s 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside of Manhattan. Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller–type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and misch A deliciously funny romp of a novel about one overly theatrical and sexually confused New Jersey teenager’s larcenous quest for his acting school tuition. It’s 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside of Manhattan. Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller–type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief. The fun comes to a halt, however, when Edward’s father remarries and refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Juilliard. Edward’s truly in a bind. He’s ineligible for scholarships because his father earns too much. He’s unable to contact his mother because she’s somewhere in Peru trying to commune with Incan spirits. And, as a sure sign he’s destined for a life in the arts, Edward’s incapable of holding down a job. So he turns to his loyal (but immoral) misfit friends to help him steal the tuition money from his father, all the while practicing for his high school performance of Grease. Disguising themselves as nuns and priests, they merrily scheme their way through embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, and blackmail. But, along the way, Edward also learns the value of friendship, hard work, and how you’re not really a man until you can beat up your father—metaphorically, that is. How I Paid for College is a farcical coming-of-age story that combines the first-person tone of David Sedaris with the byzantine plot twists of Armistead Maupin. It is a novel for anyone who has ever had a dream or a scheme, and it marks the introduction to an original and audacious talent.

30 review for How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater

  1. 4 out of 5

    LenaRibka

    4,5 stars! HILARIOUS! FUN! Have you seen Project X? No, this book doesn't have a lot of in common with a movie Project X. Except maybe an average age of the MCs. Except maybe how I feel reading it! This book cracked me up. I WAS ENTERTAINED! Marc Acito made me laugh and his book left a smile on my face after I finished it. It was a totally right choice. A perfect choice! 4,5 stars! HILARIOUS! FUN! Have you seen Project X? No, this book doesn't have a lot of in common with a movie Project X. Except maybe an average age of the MCs. Except maybe how I feel reading it! This book cracked me up. I WAS ENTERTAINED! Marc Acito made me laugh and his book left a smile on my face after I finished it. It was a totally right choice. A perfect choice!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Punk

    It's 1983 (though you really can't tell except for how Reagan's in office) and Edward Zanni's on top of the world. It's the summer before his senior year, he's been accepted to Juilliard, and life just couldn't be better, but everything screeches to a halt when Edward's father tells him he's not paying for his son to go to acting school. So Edward and his friends pull together and make a plan. The title pretty much says it all: nerd power, capers, sexual experimentation, con artists, and cross-d It's 1983 (though you really can't tell except for how Reagan's in office) and Edward Zanni's on top of the world. It's the summer before his senior year, he's been accepted to Juilliard, and life just couldn't be better, but everything screeches to a halt when Edward's father tells him he's not paying for his son to go to acting school. So Edward and his friends pull together and make a plan. The title pretty much says it all: nerd power, capers, sexual experimentation, con artists, and cross-dressing. I really enjoyed this once I got past the opening chapters. This book starts off with a flamboyant, completely over-the-top tone, and Paula and Edward aren't introduced so much as shoved at us, and Edward thinks he's straight -- I don't know WHERE he got that idea. This is a guy who sings, dances, loves musicals, name-drops Liza Minnelli, and compares himself to Bette Davis. I nearly gave up. But, around the fifth chapter, Edward admits he's attracted to men, and I decided there was hope for him yet and kept reading. I'm glad I did. Edward quickly becomes a real person. He's brave and lazy and likes boys, and girls too, and he's scared about his future, and in love with people he can't have. The nerd across the street -- Natie Nudelman, possibly my favorite character in the whole book -- plots ways to help Edward pay his tuition, and then there's the aforementioned capering. Their group of friends has the jock, the theatre people, the nerd, and the foreign girl, but they're not stereotypes and each contributes something unexpected to the group dynamic. This basically reads just like a young adult novel, but with more actual sex. I just wish Edward could have had more positive experiences with gay sex; the few encounters he did have were mostly a result of coercion, and that's just not sexy fun. Though, for the most part, this novel is. Four stars -- good for people who like teenage sex comedies, nerd power, dressing up like nuns, (frustrated) gay lust, petty crime, blackmail, musical theatre, lesbians, and making your own family out of whoever's around. I'm already mentally standing in line for Acito's next novel.

  3. 4 out of 5

    agirlwithoutwings

    I like the narration SO MUCH that I can ignore the insane things going on in the book. It felt fresh and wise and so so funny. It was one of the best books I've read recently, my only complaint would be that (view spoiler)[it wasn't totally a gay book, it was more a bisexual book, and I think the character didn't fully experience his homosexual desires. (hide spoiler)] I like the narration SO MUCH that I can ignore the insane things going on in the book. It felt fresh and wise and so so funny. It was one of the best books I've read recently, my only complaint would be that (view spoiler)[it wasn't totally a gay book, it was more a bisexual book, and I think the character didn't fully experience his homosexual desires. (hide spoiler)]

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    Absolutely one of the funniest books I've read to date. Gordon Korman meets Ferris Bueller in a story where the characters get caught up in a hilarious and crazy-wacky scheme that totally snoballs out of control, beyond anything they can imagine. It is the mid-80s, and all 17-year-old Edward wants is to enroll in the drama program at Julliard. But when his father remarries the most psycho of psycho step-mothers, Edward gets kicked out of the house and learns he can kiss his college plans goodbye. Absolutely one of the funniest books I've read to date. Gordon Korman meets Ferris Bueller in a story where the characters get caught up in a hilarious and crazy-wacky scheme that totally snoballs out of control, beyond anything they can imagine. It is the mid-80s, and all 17-year-old Edward wants is to enroll in the drama program at Julliard. But when his father remarries the most psycho of psycho step-mothers, Edward gets kicked out of the house and learns he can kiss his college plans goodbye. Unable to qualify for financial aid, Edward recruits his group of eccentric friends to help him get into the college of his choice. All they have to do is "borrow" the identity of a long-dead teen, skim some cash from evil-stepmother's secret bank account, and set up a phony scholarship that is so specific only Edward could meet the qualifications. What could go wrong? Absolutely everything! p.s. Oh yeah...there's also dressing up as nuns, sneaking into a gay bar, and the theft of a 3-foot ceremic green Buddha.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becca Becca

    This book started off pretty good and entertaining but then it went downhill and the plot and storyline got too unbelievable and out of control. I would have enjoyed just reading about the lives and antics of several "play people" high school students. I didn't need all the stuff about money laundering and blackmail. I ended up kind of skimming the last 100 pages. I did enjoy a lot of the musical theater, pop culture references and it was a fluffy enough read for what I was in the mood for (I ne This book started off pretty good and entertaining but then it went downhill and the plot and storyline got too unbelievable and out of control. I would have enjoyed just reading about the lives and antics of several "play people" high school students. I didn't need all the stuff about money laundering and blackmail. I ended up kind of skimming the last 100 pages. I did enjoy a lot of the musical theater, pop culture references and it was a fluffy enough read for what I was in the mood for (I needed good bubble bath literature).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Renata

    UHH I really thought I would like this book because I like books about precocious teens and theatre and stuff, but this book was just like, insane. I felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy or whatever and just ended up being absurdly unrealistic. And Edward, the protagonist, was basically unlikeable. I get that he was supposed to be an insecure, self-absorbed teenager but like... damn was he ever. Also, this book was way long and slow-moving. Next time I want to read about self-aware theatr UHH I really thought I would like this book because I like books about precocious teens and theatre and stuff, but this book was just like, insane. I felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy or whatever and just ended up being absurdly unrealistic. And Edward, the protagonist, was basically unlikeable. I get that he was supposed to be an insecure, self-absorbed teenager but like... damn was he ever. Also, this book was way long and slow-moving. Next time I want to read about self-aware theatre kids I will just re-read Will Grayson, Will Grayson I guess.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dannyelle

    Hilarious!! Every theatre person needs to read these books because we have these friends!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I love me a good gay catcher in the rye story anyday

  9. 5 out of 5

    Armchair

    This novel gave me a nightmare about being forced to ride through the Napa hills in the lap of a closeted gay teenage boy driving a motorcycle as his mass of shiny black curls flowed in the breeze. He wouldn’t let me off the motorcycle. I wish I were kidding. My overall impression of this novel is that it was both aimless and horrifying. There is not a scruple to be found amongst the main characters of this cynical, oversexed ode to theater life in 1983 suburban New Jersey. Edward Zanni is a large This novel gave me a nightmare about being forced to ride through the Napa hills in the lap of a closeted gay teenage boy driving a motorcycle as his mass of shiny black curls flowed in the breeze. He wouldn’t let me off the motorcycle. I wish I were kidding. My overall impression of this novel is that it was both aimless and horrifying. There is not a scruple to be found amongst the main characters of this cynical, oversexed ode to theater life in 1983 suburban New Jersey. Edward Zanni is a large Italian-American boy with an even larger singing voice, about to enter his last year of high school before moving on to Juilliard to pursue his musical theater dreams. His ample-in-every-way pal Paula precedes him and he is left to cobble together a social life from the remaining Musical Theater rabble. He scrounges up: his ex-cheerleader girlfriend Kelly (who he routinely dry humps in front of students and faculty alike), jock-turned-actor Doug whom he would also like to hump, ever-present tagalong Natie “Cheesehead” Nudelman, and terminally glamorous Persian transfer student Ziba. This cast of clowns makes a real mess of the book as they clumsily try to have sex with one another in varying configurations, regularly defile a ceramic Buddha (which serves as a motif for the chapter headings), and perform various theater-related tasks in between. Edward’s arts-oriented mother is MIA, having split to find herself years earlier and recently gone off the radar in South America, leaving him to contend with a business-focused father and drug-addled sister. When Edward’s father abruptly remarries, to a gold-digging German photographer, Edward finds himself edged out of his home and sans one financier for his college education. Luckily his friendship with Natie the Cheesehead has really taken off, because it turns out that Natie is a devious mastermind who develops an evolving strategy to raise Edward’s tuition money via a mix of good old-fashioned hard work (to which Edward is ill-suited, of course) and felonious white-collar crime. The whole gang gets dragged into the hijinks, including Paula up at Juilliard, and things get crazier and crazier right up to the bizarre ending. The story is not exactly bad, I did finish the whole thing after all, but it is definitely a lot of book. The writing is good but many of the things that are supposed to come off as funny just seem cruel, gross, or (worst of all) stupid. Edward is pretty hard to like despite his struggles with his sexuality, abandonment, self-worth, and even impotence. If he doesn’t want to have sex with a peer, he looks down on them. If he does want to have sex with a peer, they are nothing but an empty vessel for the fulfillment of his carnal desires. For all his nastiness he is rather cowardly. I could see this novel appealing to a certain kind of person who feels very outside: someone with a big personality, struggling with non-hetero-normative sexuality, who really loves the theater and is very self-absorbed. When Edward wasn’t ignoring his father he was making close-minded cracks at his expense, so I found his entitlement issues in regard to college tuition a little hard to take. The strongest part of the novel is probably the fact that Edward grows up a lot by the end of it. He is able to see the friends he has cast into various stereotypes as real people put on Earth to do something other than fill the stage of his life. He finally gets to know Kelly as a person with personality and talent rather than a stock “pretty girl” who fills out a pair of terrycloth shorts really well. The much-maligned Natie seems destined for things much greater (and perhaps more terrible) than any of the others. So it goes as well for Ziba, Doug, and to a lesser extent Paula. This is not a bad book but it’s graphically sexual, holds nothing sacred, and is at times just plain mean. I usually read YA to avoid these kinds of attitudes. The fact that Chuck Palahniuk recommended the author for publication says a lot about the novel's sensibility, but I can’t agree with the claim that he is a “gay Dave Barry”.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    Theater geeks of all ages will enjoy this coming-of-age novel. Even non-theater geeks like myself can enjoy it. It's the funniest book I can remember listening to in a long time. One word of warning advice to young people who read this book. Don't try these things at home (in real life). This is fiction with a happy ending. Real life doesn't always work out that way. I've heard it said that great works of literature speak to each other. Toward the end of this book there is an example of "not-so- Theater geeks of all ages will enjoy this coming-of-age novel. Even non-theater geeks like myself can enjoy it. It's the funniest book I can remember listening to in a long time. One word of warning advice to young people who read this book. Don't try these things at home (in real life). This is fiction with a happy ending. Real life doesn't always work out that way. I've heard it said that great works of literature speak to each other. Toward the end of this book there is an example of "not-so-great literature" (i.e. this book) speaking about great literature. There's a lengthy discussion toward the end of the book about the book, "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," by James Joyce. The scene is a class room of high school seniors who have just been given an assignment to write a paper about who they are now in the same spirit of James Joyce's "Portrait..." which they have just finished reading. The protagonist thinks to himself that he is so much like Stephen Dedalus (the main character in Joyce's "Portrait..."). Oh by the way, the book "How I Paid For College" has way too much sex in it for me to recommend to anybody else to read. The following short review is from the 2007 Book Lover's Calendar: First Time Out Theater geeks of all ages will cotton to this madcap coming-of-age novel. Edward Zanni is accepted at prestigious performing arts school Julliard, but Dad (and wicked Stepmom) won’t pay. He initiates a scheme crazier than the plot of a musical comedy to pay the tuition. Acito won raves for his debut: “Witty...pitch-perfect” (The New York Times), “funny, fast, satisfying” (People), and “endearing” (Details). HOW I PAID FOR COLLEGE, by Marc Acito (Broadway, 2005)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    I don't care for this for a number of reasons I don't care to specify. Is that redundant? 0 of 10 stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sabina

    I absolutely tore through this book in two days, which is surprising because I wanted to quit 30 pages in from all the crass misogynistic teenage boy comments. But I stuck it out till my 50-page threshold and was absolutely hooked. How I Paid For College is funny, unusual, and toes the line between YA and adult fiction. Great characters balance with fast-paced plot. It loses a star for the aforementioned crassness, plus some hammy jokes and the movie-like perfect wrapup ending, but overall I rea I absolutely tore through this book in two days, which is surprising because I wanted to quit 30 pages in from all the crass misogynistic teenage boy comments. But I stuck it out till my 50-page threshold and was absolutely hooked. How I Paid For College is funny, unusual, and toes the line between YA and adult fiction. Great characters balance with fast-paced plot. It loses a star for the aforementioned crassness, plus some hammy jokes and the movie-like perfect wrapup ending, but overall I really enjoyed it. *PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge #38: A book with an ugly cover*

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Only made it through the first 2 chapters. Didn’t catch my attention so I stopped reading. No sense wasting my time when there are other books

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laala Kashef Alghata

    “I put on my new glasses to heighten the effect. The glasses have a sort of pinkish tint to them that bathes everything I see in a rosy glow, and I’m pleased with myself for buying something that doesn’t necessarily make me look good to the world (they are a little faggy, I guess) but which makes the world look good to me instead.” — Marc Acito, How I Paid For College Let me say this from the get-go: if Philippa hadn’t handed me this book, I wouldn’t have ever picked it up; if she hadn’t then hov “I put on my new glasses to heighten the effect. The glasses have a sort of pinkish tint to them that bathes everything I see in a rosy glow, and I’m pleased with myself for buying something that doesn’t necessarily make me look good to the world (they are a little faggy, I guess) but which makes the world look good to me instead.” — Marc Acito, How I Paid For College Let me say this from the get-go: if Philippa hadn’t handed me this book, I wouldn’t have ever picked it up; if she hadn’t then hovered to make sure I read the first couple of pages, it would have gone straight back on the shelf. But she did, and I read two pages and was laughing out loud in the middle of Waterstone’s. The cover, although attractive, wouldn’t appeal to me as a reader, and the title certainly wouldn’t. In fact, the title, and the subtitle “A tale of sex, theft, friendship and musical theatre” are the first things I’d change if I were the publisher. I don’t know what I would’ve picked instead, but I really don’t think it did the book any favours. But when I started reading it, as I said, I was pleasantly surprised. The book is laugh-out-loud funny, which I don’t find often. When people say “this made me laugh”, they actually mean they found it amusing and smiled, or chuckled for a second. What I mean is I laughed out loud, in the bookstore, on the train, in the park, in my apartment. I tried to suppress myself in public but in private I was gleeful. It’s well written, funny, and more than a little outrageous. Some of it is far-fetched (you probably would not enlist your friends to help you drug your stepmother and take naked pictures with her as blackmail, for instance), but the relationships between Edward and his friends was a good one, and even the scenes that feel improbable in real life, have a progression in the book that make it believable. In the end, the only thing I wanted to strike out completely was the final chapter — not because it had anything outrageous in it but because it was entirely unnecessary, as it was there simply to tie up loose ends that didn’t need to be tied up. And that’s exactly what it felt like. In fact, if I tore out those pages and handed someone the book, I bet they would think the penultimate chapter is the final one. It’s a light-hearted book, filled with sexual conquests and exploration, unlikely friendships and modern life, and it will be a book I revisit when I want a good laugh.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Boisture

    Edward Zanni is a high school senior in suburban New Jersey in 1983, Edward and his friends are “Play People,” also known as theater kids. The summer before school starts, this band of friends embarks on an adventure of “CV”, also known as Creative Vandalism. At the start of the school year, Edward’s newly remarried dad drops the news that he won’t pay for Julliard, Edward’s dream, he’ll only pay for Edward to go to college for business. What’s a guy, along with his group of madcap friends to do Edward Zanni is a high school senior in suburban New Jersey in 1983, Edward and his friends are “Play People,” also known as theater kids. The summer before school starts, this band of friends embarks on an adventure of “CV”, also known as Creative Vandalism. At the start of the school year, Edward’s newly remarried dad drops the news that he won’t pay for Julliard, Edward’s dream, he’ll only pay for Edward to go to college for business. What’s a guy, along with his group of madcap friends to do? Natie Nudelman, the group’s computer whiz kid with a broken moral compass comes up with a list. 1. Work. 2. Scholarships. 3. Theft. 4. Murder. OK, murder is a little extreme, but theft? Well, Edward does get a job, and through a little fun and lighthearted theft, fraud and money-laundering to create a scholarship, they should be able to get him to Julliard. And as a bonus, they might get back at his dad’s new wife. All the while they are scheming, there’s a lot of sexual tension in the group as openly bisexual Edward is having trouble pleasing his girlfriend Kelly because he can’t stop thinking about jock-turned Play Person Doug. Books written about teens in the eighties basically ignored the LGBT community, so it’s nice to see a bisexual character whose sexuality isn’t the source of drama and heartache. Doug knows Edward has a crush on him and even though he doesn’t return the crush, he is kind of flattered. (Also, Edward isn’t the only LGBT character in the book....but no spoilers). How I Paid for College is absolutely hilarious. The teenage characters are smarter and funnier and somehow cooler (even though they’re supposed to be big nerds) than I have ever been. There’s a lovely found family storyline, queer characters, crazy schemes, and an absolute loathing of the suburbs that teenage me could relate hard to. (”What have they got to be snobby about? Don’t they realize they live in New Jersey?” asks on character.) It’s a damn shame this hasn’t been made into a movie. A little light fan casting Edward: Noah Centineo Paula: Beanie Feldstein Kelly: Sabrina Carpenter Natie: Gaten Matarazzo Doug: Jake T. Austin Ziba: Yara Shahidi Al Zanni: Bobby Canavale Dagmar: Renee Zellweger Kelly's Mom: Judy Greer Mr. Lucas: Tom Kavanagh

  16. 5 out of 5

    Merce

    I first read this book in June 2013, and I remember me always picking it up and how hard it was to put it down. I reckon I finished it in a week, which was the fastest I had ever read a book in a foreign language back then. This year, 2018, I got the second volume, so I decided to reread the first one to refresh some character and plot details. And so I did, not without some anguish, since I was convinced I was not going to find the story as entertaining, catchy, and hilarious as six years ago. T I first read this book in June 2013, and I remember me always picking it up and how hard it was to put it down. I reckon I finished it in a week, which was the fastest I had ever read a book in a foreign language back then. This year, 2018, I got the second volume, so I decided to reread the first one to refresh some character and plot details. And so I did, not without some anguish, since I was convinced I was not going to find the story as entertaining, catchy, and hilarious as six years ago. Turns out, I actually did not fully remember how entertaining, catchy, and hilarious this book really is: Edward’s misfortunes allow him to show off his great problem-solving skills, and he is such a calm person, despite the fact that everything seems to go wrong for him, that one cannot help but feel he is a pretty good role model (minus the embezzlement, identity theft, forgery, blackmail, and trusting Nathan Nudelman). The quick pace of the novel, as well as the numerous cultural references from the theatre industry and the 80s made that I learned many things I did not know (always appreciated) and devoured this book (much recommended).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    Edward Zanni seems to have it made: he rules the roost at his high school's drama department, has a very important audition for Juilliard coming soon and more potential lovers than seems right for a boy of his doughy physique. To cadge a line from Gypsy Lee, "everything's coming up roses" for young Ed. Until, in delightful Disney fashion, his yuppie father marries a Bavarian ice princess who makes Snow White's evil stepmother look like the poster-parent of foster care. Soon Edward is cut off fin Edward Zanni seems to have it made: he rules the roost at his high school's drama department, has a very important audition for Juilliard coming soon and more potential lovers than seems right for a boy of his doughy physique. To cadge a line from Gypsy Lee, "everything's coming up roses" for young Ed. Until, in delightful Disney fashion, his yuppie father marries a Bavarian ice princess who makes Snow White's evil stepmother look like the poster-parent of foster care. Soon Edward is cut off financially and is left scrambling to find a way to pay for the ever-increasing tuition of America's preeminent drama school in a series of increasingly hilarious (if far-fetched) adventures. A great beach read that doesn't really require much attention from its reader, this book reminded me of everything I loved about growing up in musical theatre. I mean, really, who doesn't enjoy singing showtunes in Greenwich Village piano bars or reminiscing about hiding youthful bawdy excesses from the willfully blind parental units? The front cover describes this as "a book for mature readers that reminds us what a blast immaturity can be" and this is a promise that it keeps, in both regards.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Arminzerella

    Edward Zanni, seventeen, wants to study acting at Julliard. It’s been his plan for as long as he can remember. But, his dad throws a wrench in the works when he announces that he’s not going to pay for college unless Edward goes to business school. Thus begins Edward’s year of insanity as he scrambles to find a way to pay for Julliard. Throw in some crazy money-making schemes (Edward can’t seem to hold onto a real job for more than a few days) involving theft, money-laundering, a Catholic Vigila Edward Zanni, seventeen, wants to study acting at Julliard. It’s been his plan for as long as he can remember. But, his dad throws a wrench in the works when he announces that he’s not going to pay for college unless Edward goes to business school. Thus begins Edward’s year of insanity as he scrambles to find a way to pay for Julliard. Throw in some crazy money-making schemes (Edward can’t seem to hold onto a real job for more than a few days) involving theft, money-laundering, a Catholic Vigilance Society scholarship, Frank Sinatra, blackmail, and the theft of a garden Buddha and you’ve got quite a story. Come on, you know you want to see how all of that plays out. This alternately made me whoop with laughter and cringe when I thought about how parents might react to the frank and uncensored use of language, sexual situations, and blatant disregard for the law in a *teen* book. It makes for fantastic fiction, though. It looks like many libraries have addressed this concern by putting it in their adult collections. It’s definitely an adult book – but older teens will get a kick out of it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Meryl

    My sister half-read this book but was raving about how funny and awesome it was so I had to read it, too. Plus, the cover is lovely and eye-catching. I liked the GLBTness of it and the humor. Wow, the comdey of this novel was perfect and the whole thing was paced well and just great! I liked how it took place in the '80s (and you could just tell that from page one, come one people) and the great knowledge of the theatre (musicals, plays, etc. you know). But for some reason I couldn't concentrate o My sister half-read this book but was raving about how funny and awesome it was so I had to read it, too. Plus, the cover is lovely and eye-catching. I liked the GLBTness of it and the humor. Wow, the comdey of this novel was perfect and the whole thing was paced well and just great! I liked how it took place in the '80s (and you could just tell that from page one, come one people) and the great knowledge of the theatre (musicals, plays, etc. you know). But for some reason I couldn't concentrate on the book. It took me the whole month to read this book and that is really weird for me because I can usually finish a book or two with a week, week and a half. But not so for this one and I'm not sure why. It just didn't CLING to my brain like many oter books, or maybe I was just distracted with my life outside of reading because a lot has been going on lately, so I'm not sure what the case is. I just couldn't focus on the book for a long time and that was annoying. But I did finish it, finally, an dI was glad to have at last. But geez, it was a good book, but it wasn't GREAT! But now it's time to move on to another one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    KJ

    I actually got this book on tape from my library's tiny selection. And I'm so glad I listened to it on tape as the actor doing the voices did a great job and it was HILARIOUS with the various New Jersey/east coast accents. The only reason I didn't give it a four is because the main character is so completely self absorbed. He's ungrateful to people who are risking everything for him and he gets angry at them when their plans to help him don't work out, etc. He's the definition of a spoiled brat. I actually got this book on tape from my library's tiny selection. And I'm so glad I listened to it on tape as the actor doing the voices did a great job and it was HILARIOUS with the various New Jersey/east coast accents. The only reason I didn't give it a four is because the main character is so completely self absorbed. He's ungrateful to people who are risking everything for him and he gets angry at them when their plans to help him don't work out, etc. He's the definition of a spoiled brat. When he whined about having to get a job to pay for college the story kinda lost me there as I began to despise the little brat. But the story was fun and there were parts that were hilarious. There were three lines that were repeated throughout the entire book on tape at regular 10 minute intervals...."the universilly understood signal for...", "when they make the movie of my life" and another one that my brain has already chosen to forget. But overall I would recommend the book (on tape) because there were a lot of parts that were funny and made me smile.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    Back in the December ice storm when we were taking refuge at todd and kevin's house I plucked this at random from Kevin's bookshelf and got sucked in to the offbeat story and hilarious cast of characters. It is basically a really funny story about an elaborate embezzlement plot carried out by a misfit high school senior and his crazy crew of friends to figure out how to pay for his first semester at Juliard that involves a lawn Buddha, embezzling funds previously embezzled by an evil step-mother Back in the December ice storm when we were taking refuge at todd and kevin's house I plucked this at random from Kevin's bookshelf and got sucked in to the offbeat story and hilarious cast of characters. It is basically a really funny story about an elaborate embezzlement plot carried out by a misfit high school senior and his crazy crew of friends to figure out how to pay for his first semester at Juliard that involves a lawn Buddha, embezzling funds previously embezzled by an evil step-mother, and the constant hi-jinx of a wonderful group of highly entertaining,fantastically dorky and exuberantly theatrical friends. I'm just getting started on the sequal, "Attack of the Theatre People." Great for a million laughs, a really quick read that lasted barely a week b/c I couldn't put it down!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A lovely, lovely thing. Hilarious, moving, innocent (kind of...actually, not really), raucously fun, hugely camp, and full of the kind of OTT, kooky characters which rarely work well in novels. But here, they get away with it because they're 17 years old. Not only that but they're 17-year-old fledgeling performers. And that is the way 17-year-old fledgeling performers behave. Nowhere near as vanilla as High School Musical (although imagine if [an openly bi] Ryan were the main character, and Troy A lovely, lovely thing. Hilarious, moving, innocent (kind of...actually, not really), raucously fun, hugely camp, and full of the kind of OTT, kooky characters which rarely work well in novels. But here, they get away with it because they're 17 years old. Not only that but they're 17-year-old fledgeling performers. And that is the way 17-year-old fledgeling performers behave. Nowhere near as vanilla as High School Musical (although imagine if [an openly bi] Ryan were the main character, and Troy and Gabriella were actually DOING IT, and you'll be close) but not as fatuous as the 'Spawn of American Pie' genre. Also, Acito pulls off a much-attempted, but rarely successful, feat: keeping his eye firmly on the screenplay prize at no detriment to the novel.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I think that the subtitle really sums up this funny book, which may or may not be loosely based on the author's teen years. It is full of ridiculous things, a series of almost anecdotes tied together. Teens do not, as a rule, drug people and take sexually suggestive pictures in order to blackmail them to get money for Julliard. They do, of course, deal with sex. They also play silly pranks and deal with horrible parents and stepparents. There are so many serious and emotionally draining moments I think that the subtitle really sums up this funny book, which may or may not be loosely based on the author's teen years. It is full of ridiculous things, a series of almost anecdotes tied together. Teens do not, as a rule, drug people and take sexually suggestive pictures in order to blackmail them to get money for Julliard. They do, of course, deal with sex. They also play silly pranks and deal with horrible parents and stepparents. There are so many serious and emotionally draining moments scattered throughout this story. Yet, we almost don't have time to really sit on them, allowing the next musical practice or crazy scheme or drunken party or fast food job to wash over us. Is that how we were at 18? Sure, why not?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty (alkalinekiwi)

    This caught my eye at a library booksale where all the books were marked down to 20c. I remember adding it to the towering pile of books in my arms and a startled employee running to get me a trolley should the whole thing topple over and knock someone out under several kilograms of books. I loved this book and would give it 4.5 stars if I could. From the start I was gripped and it helped me ignore the pain from my swollen post-surgery face. Edward and his friends' schemes and plans were nothing This caught my eye at a library booksale where all the books were marked down to 20c. I remember adding it to the towering pile of books in my arms and a startled employee running to get me a trolley should the whole thing topple over and knock someone out under several kilograms of books. I loved this book and would give it 4.5 stars if I could. From the start I was gripped and it helped me ignore the pain from my swollen post-surgery face. Edward and his friends' schemes and plans were nothing like mine when I was 17 so not exactly relatable but still incredibly funny and had me laughing. Even though it is about teenagers I probably wouldn't call it a young adult book, sort of a crossover between young adult/adult. Now to track down a copy of the sequel!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Glee crossed with Ferris Bueller with a bit of Queer as Folk thrown in the mix, with the end result being more suited for HBO than for FOX. How I Paid for College delivers everything it promises in the title as it follows Edward Zanni, class of 1984, through his senior year as he scrambles to get accepted to and then pay for Julliard after his newly remarried father refuses. It's a fun romp, told entirely through Edward's overdramatic teenage eyes. Note: This is about teenagers and would probabl Glee crossed with Ferris Bueller with a bit of Queer as Folk thrown in the mix, with the end result being more suited for HBO than for FOX. How I Paid for College delivers everything it promises in the title as it follows Edward Zanni, class of 1984, through his senior year as he scrambles to get accepted to and then pay for Julliard after his newly remarried father refuses. It's a fun romp, told entirely through Edward's overdramatic teenage eyes. Note: This is about teenagers and would probably be enjoyed by a YA audience, but there's a lot of sex and a fair amount of criminal behavior. I found it in the adult fiction section of my local library.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sunday

    This book was more engaging than any other book I've read in the past few years. It does indeed include sex, theft, and musical theatre (along with drugs and blackmail) which is probably what made it so great. Well, topic-wise, that's what made it so great. Also great about it is the author trusting the reader to get (or not get) the jokes. There's no immediate explanation, which I appreciate. This book is scandalous, but I loved it. I'm concerned that it may be too in-depth for YAs (LOTS of sexy s This book was more engaging than any other book I've read in the past few years. It does indeed include sex, theft, and musical theatre (along with drugs and blackmail) which is probably what made it so great. Well, topic-wise, that's what made it so great. Also great about it is the author trusting the reader to get (or not get) the jokes. There's no immediate explanation, which I appreciate. This book is scandalous, but I loved it. I'm concerned that it may be too in-depth for YAs (LOTS of sexy stuff, some of it being of the gay variety), but I bet they do love it, but for different reasons. I'm curious to read other reviews.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Forever Young Adult

    Graded By: Brian Cover Story: You Too Can Ace the SAT Test! Drinking Buddy: Stranded at the Velvet Rope Testosterone Level: Insert Generic History of the World, Part I Sex Pun Here Talky Talk: And Opie Taylor Grew Up to be a Drag Queen Bonus Factors: LGBT, 1984, Big is Beautiful, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up Bromance Status: That Idealized Bunch of High School Friends Read the full book report here. Graded By: Brian Cover Story: You Too Can Ace the SAT Test! Drinking Buddy: Stranded at the Velvet Rope Testosterone Level: Insert Generic History of the World, Part I Sex Pun Here Talky Talk: And Opie Taylor Grew Up to be a Drag Queen Bonus Factors: LGBT, 1984, Big is Beautiful, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up Bromance Status: That Idealized Bunch of High School Friends Read the full book report here.

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Miller

    Marc Acito is a riot. He is relentlessly witty to the point of inciting bursts of laughter in public places. In this socially awkward - yet inspiring - teenage journey to college, it is quite likely that you will be able to relate to someone in this eclectic montage of characters and events. In the unlikely event that you do not, be ready to live vicariously for 288 pages that will certainly leave you with a smile.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    “How I Paid for College” is a funny (if sometimes awkward) coming of age story. The characters are ridiculous and ridiculously fun. The plot is ridiculous, sometimes funny and sometimes heartfelt. Looking at the story as a whole I thought it was a lot of fun. If you read Tim Dorsey or Carl Hiaasen, I think you’ll really like this story. Well written and interesting I’m sure all read more from this author if it’s like this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Darci

    I stumbled upon this book while looking for another. I liked the title and the cover so I decided to get it. I literally judged this book by its cover and it worked out for me. I was a theater kid in high school too so I got all of the references and theater jokes. The writing is funny and quick and it feels like the narrator is talking. It’s pretty casual but I think that’s what makes it enjoyable.

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