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How I Paid for College


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About the Author

Hailed as the "gay Dave Barry," Marc Acito is a syndicated humorist, whose column, "The Gospel According to Marc," appears in nineteen newspapers, including the Chicago Free Press and Outword-Los Angeles. After being kicked out of one of the finest drama schools in the country, he went on to sing roles with major opera companies, including Seattle Opera. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Portland humor columnist Acito debuts with dazzling comic panache in this story of a teenage would-be swindler and budding drama queen. Edward Zanni is dying to escape boring Wallingford, N.J., for the hallowed halls of Juilliard, and he's got a pretty good chance at it. It's summer, and he's palling around with his fellow Play People, who include his gorgeous girlfriend, Kelly, and his hot jock pal, Doug, and dreaming of stardom. The fly in the ointment is Zanni's money-obsessed father, Al, who pulls the financial plug on Edward's Juilliard dream after marrying a trophy babe, a beautiful, icy Teutonic model named Dagmar. Edward counters dad's penny-pinching by moving in with Kelly's family to establish financial independence for a scholarship, but bombs at several minimum-wage jobs. How will he pay for college now that his audition really a public mental breakdown got him in? His devious buddy, Nathan, concocts a plan to steal from gold-digging Dagmar, who's been siphoning Al's cash into a secret account. Edward and pals set up a fake nonprofit designed to award a Juilliard scholarship to someone born in Hoboken (Edward) but there's a problem. Acito nails his scenes one after another, from Edward's shifting (but always enthusiastic) sexuality to the silly messes he gets himself into. The result is a thumbs-up winner from a storyteller whose future looks as bright as that of his young hero. Agent, Edward Hibbert. (Sept.) Forecast: Acito's playful, nuanced treatment of sexual exploration and lively plot should make this an appealing choice for older YA readers as well as adults. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Not a how-to, alas, but reputedly a very funny debut about a New Jersey teenager who goes to great lengths to pay his Juilliard tuition. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-With this funny, moving, and dead-on novel, Acito becomes to high school theater what Chris Crutcher is to high school sports. Edward Zanni-fabulous, talented, and vulnerable in equal measure-is stuck: he's made it into Juilliard's prestigious acting program, but his father refuses to lay out a dime for a major that he considers unworthy. With an absent mother and a household income too high to qualify for financial aid, the teen feels doomed. Enter his friends, whose talents range from creative vandalism (giving makeovers to lawn ornaments) to embezzlement (from Edward's thieving stepmother). Between rehearsals for Grease and Godspell and secretly obsessing over one another sexually, they plunge into fraud, forgery, and blackmail in a desperate quest for tuition. While priest costumes, Maya Angelou, and Frank Sinatra all come into the picture, the story never degenerates into meaningless slapstick-perhaps because Acito's voice is so genuine. He masterfully captures the chief activity of teenagers: yearning. Sexuality is depicted frankly, not patronizingly or gratuitously. Friendships are realistically flawed and, therefore, powerfully moving. Egos get popped and inflated more rapidly than balloons at a fair. This insightfulness ensures that College will become one of those rare books that YAs insist that all of their friends read, that is carried around in backpacks just to have it be close at all times.-Emily Lloyd, formerly at Rehoboth Beach Public Library, DE Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Marc Acito's rollicking first novel is, by turns, sweet, sexy, and outrageous. Powered by the author's devious imagination, the story shows us a handful of teenagers driven to larceny, embezzlement, and impersonation--all in the name of higher education. Beneath the story's beguiling shtick, though, is a more serious issue--the complications inherent in the difficult business of becoming ourselves. A great graduation gift."

--Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There "Witty... peppered with pitch-perfect, archly adolescent asides... The ease with which Acito has choreographed [these] crazy capers makes you hope there's a lot more where all this came from." --New York Times Book Review "Acito has fantastic narrative chops, writing funny, fast, and satisfying chapters... This is a book for mature readers that reminds us what a blast immaturity can be." --People "Like the class clown willing to do anything for a laugh, [How I Paid for College is] funny, entertaining, and ultimately endearing." --Details "A coming-of-age, coming-out tale that escapes triteness and predictability thanks to Acito's eye for the absurd truth." --TimeOut New York "Dazzling... a thumbs-up winner from a storyteller whose future looks as bright as that of his young hero." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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