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Posted February 8, 2010
A hilarious and touching trip back to high school
If the names Charlie Townsend and Kelly Garrett mean anything to you, if you can picture the lead singer from Wham!, if you have pulled on a pair of leg warmers or rolled on thick layers of Bonne Bell, then allow me to introduce you to your new BFF, The Aqua Net Diaries: Big Hair, Big Dreams, Small Town. Award-winning author Jennifer Niven has written a memoir that brings readers back to the 1980s, plunks us down in her Midwestern high school and delights us with the trials and tribulations of coming of age as a small town girl with big city dreams. As Niven writes, "Life was innocent, good. There was angst, but it mostly involved having a bad hair day, finding the next party, worrying about saying and doing the right thing, wrestling with geometric theorems, trying not to die of boredom, and wanting to be noticed by the one boy we all loved more than anything.It was a time when anything was possible."
Readers profit from Niven's propensity to be a pack rat. Amazingly, she has saved notes passed during class as well as journal entries, poems, songs and novellas she wrote, and even transcripts of phone conversations. The inclusion of these rare fossils of adolescent revelry and angst add immeasurable verity to her memoir. Down to the smallest detail - such as her pre-teen description of her canopy bed "with removable posts on top that make really good microphones" - Niven gifts readers with long-forgotten artifacts of teenage life. And she presents it all with laugh-out-loud, acerbic wit that brings to mind the style of David Sedaris. "I was the All-American girl living in the All-American City. But from the moment we moved to Richmond, I knew I would get out one day and go someplace bigger and faster, someplace where wild hogs didn't roam the streets and where men didn't eat the bark off trees."
The Aqua Net Diaries guides readers in a look back on carefree days when complicated meant passing notes under the steely gaze of the Russian Lit. teacher and the worst day ever was reading "Jennifer McJunkin is a ho bag" on the bathroom stall. A time before life's tangible disappointments began to carve away at the person you thought you would become. A time when you might still become a rock star. The author presents the memories of her desperate yearning to escape this prototypical (aka, boring) Midwestern high school through the lens of a sentimental adult with equal yearning to return to the luxurious selfishness and complex simplicity of teenage life. Niven captures this loves-me, loves-me-not juxtaposition with perfect pitch.
Quill says: Take a hilarious and touching trip back to high school in the smart and sassy hands of Jennifer Niven!
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Posted January 26, 2013
Posted May 16, 2010
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