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Teen Angst? Naaah...: A Quasi-Autobiography

Teen Angst? Naaah...: A Quasi-Autobiography

4.5 34
by Ned Vizzini, Chris Schons (Illustrator)

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Ned Vizzini writes about the weird, funny, and sometimes mortifying moments we all experience in junior high and high school. With wit, irony, and honesty, Teen Angst? invites you into his world of school, parents, the cool and almost cool, street people, rock bands, friends, fame, camp, sex (sort of), Cancun (almost), prom, beer, Nintendo, Magic, and more. If you're


Ned Vizzini writes about the weird, funny, and sometimes mortifying moments we all experience in junior high and high school. With wit, irony, and honesty, Teen Angst? invites you into his world of school, parents, the cool and almost cool, street people, rock bands, friends, fame, camp, sex (sort of), Cancun (almost), prom, beer, Nintendo, Magic, and more. If you're a teen, you'll relate. If you're an adult, you'll remember. Either way, you'll laugh out loud.

Editorial Reviews

Teens who have trouble gaining perspective on those eventful junior high and high school years can take solace in the witty and down-to-earth observations of Ned Vizzini's "quasi-autobiography." Reflecting on his time as a New York City student possessing creative flair and a taste for memorable anecdotes, this talented writer relates his experiences with Nintendo playing, high school cliques, buying beer, sexual opportunities, jobs, and parents. Just some of the memorable incidents include his time as an audience member of The View and his attempt to pull off a secret trip to Cancún with schoolmates, and Vizzini handles it all with teenage finesse mixed with honest urban style. Teen Angst? Naaah... is a hilarious look at getting older, and with extra side notes throughout as well as an index, this writer takes the mishmash of teenage adventures and makes them a wise guide to staying cool.
Breezy, funny, and genuine
Publishers Weekly
Of this autobiographical account of coming of age as a teenager in New York City, PW said, "Readers will likely laugh at 19-year-old Vizzini's awkward antics. He shows a real talent for self-deprecating humor." Ages 12-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
This delightful set of short essays was written by a New York City student between the ages of 15 and 18; many of the pieces were previously published in New York Press and The New York Times Magazine. Ned writes about his experiences in junior high and high school with self-deprecating humor, telling of his eighth-grade rock band, Wormwhole ("we had no vocalist...our lyrics were telepathic"), his obsessions with Nintendo and Magic cards, his drive to get into competitive Stuyvesant High School, a race he ran in the rain—in sandals—to impress a girl, tentative experiments with marijuana and alcohol, his fear of dancing, his first girlfriend, playing dominos on the street in the Village, a summer job as a house painter, and much more. It's fun spending time with Ned; both my thirteen-year-old daughter and my sixteen-year-old son read this and recommended it warmly to me. As the title indicates, Ned has an upbeat attitude and he approaches the world with a refreshing openness (but material here is at most PG-13, not R-rated, in case librarians need to know). Vizzini has a way with words; students struggling to write essays could learn a lot from reading his. B/w illustrations by Chris Schons break up the text. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Free Spirit, 234p, illus, index, 20cm, 00-037131, $12.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
Nineteen-year-old Vizzini, likeable spokesperson for the teenagers who do not make headlines, has written a series of charming essays that are laced with delightful moments of "ah HA" humor, covering his junior high and high school experiences. His pieces, which have been published in The New York Times Magazine and The New York Press since he was fifteen, are self-deprecating peeks into the bumbling harmless adventures that defined his adolescence. Vizzini is "this close" to sneaking off to Cancun for several days on his senior trip when he realizes that he is committed to portraying Jesus in his church play, which opens the same evening as takeoff. Vizzini unsuccessfully pitches his homemade video that features young girls being munched by really big, really mad turtles to his local community access television station. Vizzini's descriptions of his peers are smart, precise, and often hilarious. Frequent asides appear in the margins to clarify, elaborate, or reassure—no animals were harmed in the filming of Attack of the Killer Turtle. Readers can only hope that once Vizzini—who has postponed college while in search of the ever-elusive get-rich-quick-on-the-Internet fortune—has the cyber start-up itch out of his system, he will go back to writing. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Free Spirit, 208p, $12.95 Trade pb. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Beth Anderson

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-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 Education of Robert Nifkin (Farrar, 1998), suggests a wisdom beyond his years. "The teen world is full of second prizes. Nobody wants to hurt our self-esteem." His timely scenarios include a Nintendo obsession, Magic cards, a visit to ABC's The View, and singular incidents 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.-Laura Glaser, Euless Junior High School, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


I started writing this book because of my backpack. I took a bright teal, super-dorky backpack to high school, a backpack my mother had ordered years earlier from L.L. Bean. It worked so great throughout junior high that I figured it had a year or two left in it.

    My backpack got some looks. People would stare at it, wondering, "What kind of idiot wears an accessory like that?" Then they would see me. "Oh."

    One day, I was going down one of my high school's escalators. I was tired. I took off my backpack and put it next to me on an escalator step. For whatever reason, the backpack flipped over and started rolling down like a Slinky.

    Many steps below stood a girl. She had one hand to her face, as if she were on a cell phone, but she had no actual phone. We were the only people on the escalator. The backpack kept tumbling (I watched it sort of helplessly) and whapped her in the back of the calves.

    The girl stopped talking on her fake phone and turned to look at me. She had to take that look: I could've been a cute guy who'd flung my backpack at her to break the ice. She sized me up, cocked her head, and kicked my backpack as hard as she could the rest of the way down.

    When I reached the bottom, I picked up my backpack and thought about it for the rest of the day. On the subway ride home, I pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper and wrote about the cell-phone girl and my stupid bag. I wrote angrily; I used a lot of curses. Afterward, I felt a lot better, and when I read my words the next day, I thought theywere pretty good.

    So I went from writing profanity-ridden rants to slightly less profanity-ridden essays. I was able to get some of them published in a local newspaper, New York Press. Soon I was writing on a regular basis, taking my boring, scary, embarrassing high school moments and turning them into something people could read about. It was a real comfort—if something weird or horrible happened to me, I'd write about it, and then somehow I'd be in control. A little.

    In 1998, I got a piece published in The New York Times Magazine. That got me in touch with Free Spirit Publishing, who gave me this book contract, which I signed, and now somehow I'm here, writing this introduction after polishing most of what I wrote in high school and organizing it chronologically.

    I threw out that backpack when I was a junior and replaced it with a bag from the army surplus store.

    I never did learn the name of the girl.

Ned Vizzini
Brooklyn, New York

My school had seven sets of escalators. It was a high school specializing in math and science, so I guess they figured we deserved escalators.

If you want to write to me about my book, you can reach me at Free Spirit Publishing Inc., 400 First Avenue North, Suite 616 Minneapolis, MN 55401-1724. Or email me at: help4kids@ freespirit.com

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Ames
This kid can write! Teen Angst? is zany, tender and hysterically funny.
Jim Knipfel
How could a kid this young be this talented? I still don't know the answer. But he writes with a clarity, an honesty, and an unpretentious sense of the absurd that most writers would kill for. The really amazing thing is that beyond the remarkable skill, and beyond his obvious smarts, Ned always remains, to the core, real.
Julie Smith
I'm not even particularly fond of kids-more of a dog person-so the fact that I read TEEN ANGST? is shocking enough. The idea that I enjoyed it and want to share it with other people is a testament to Vizzini's honesty, humor, insight, and ability to write in such a way that crosses age, gender, and any other gaps that are out there. Prepare to laugh, reflect, and reminiscence about your own teen years.
— Independent Bookseller

Meet the Author

Ned Vizzini is the author of the award-winning young adult books It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which was made into a motion picture; Be More Chill; and, of course, Teen Angst? Naaah . . . . 

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Teen Angst? Naaah... 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
AlternativeMind More than 1 year ago
This was ultimately a beautiful quasi-autobiography novel by the amazing Ned Vizzini. I have been a big fan of his novels for a while but Teen Angst gives the readers more insight on his life and shows how great of a guy and a writer Ned Vizzini really is. I found this book interesting and hilarious but conclusively outstanding. This is highly recommended. And I hope to read many future novels of his at that. =)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Getting inside some teen minds, can be cliche or overrated. Ned Vizzini adds humorous and emotional twists to the mind of his old school years. Kids can relate to his real life experiences and get sucked into his life. It's a quick read, but when you're done you feel as though you know him or know somebody like him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just got the book yesterday, and I had also finished it yesterday. Ned has a remarkable talent. I don't know adults who could write this well. The book was truly a joy to read. It shared touched someone of my inner thoughts as a teen, it is comforting to know that other kids do share the same thoughts as I do. Ned also approached them in such a manner that it was hilarious. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Im a teenage girl and i loved this book, it was hilarious!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. Ned Vizzini will always be my favourite author, it's sad to know that he's no longer with us. This world lost a good soul. But his books will last forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Teen Angst is a funny and heartwarming book. Ned makes you think and makes you laugh at the same time. He's good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is inmy top five surrounded by neds other books! Continue doing the the great work Ned!
CassidyCupcake More than 1 year ago
One of my top 5 favorite books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book
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P-P_CIL More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining. Readers can easily relate to Ned's adventures throughout Junior High and Stuyvesant High School. Overall, it was a fun book to read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few weeks ago and I couldn't put it down. It is written in a really cool way. Definitley worth reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author does a great job at keeping the readers attention. I would definitely recommend this book. It's funny!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is hilarious, very well written. My favorite chapters were the ones on taking your girlfriend to the prom and the one about camp. Ned has a good website (nedvizzini.com) that has pics of him, more writing and other fun stuff.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a quick, albeit great read. [I bought it yesterday and I'll probably finish it tonight.] I go to Stuyvesant, the high school the author went to and writes about. Its really interesting to read about how little has changed in six years and its also very easy to relate to. This is one of those laugh out loud [literally!] kind of books that everyone and anyone would enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i can't believe it's an autobiography... it's so... INTERESTING. its funny at some points and u can relate to it so well...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truely amazing. I bought it on a whim, and I am sure glad I did. Reading it didn't take long, and I was sad once I had finished it. My book is in such tattered conditions that I am thinking about getting another, because I don't want to lend out my original copy...it's just that good.