Books — How I Paid For College

How I Paid For College

By Lisa Parsons

How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater, by Marc Acito, Broadway Books, 2004, 278 pages.

The key to enjoying How I Paid for College is Ferris Bueller.

The front book-jacket copy describes the protagonist as a “Ferris Bueller type,” and the book only works if you read him that way. Otherwise he’ll just seem annoying, clumsy, corny, clueless and unwithstandably wholesome.

But seen in the proper light, our main man is in fact a geeky, independent, flamboyant, good-hearted little schemer. He does things with flair. He’s ambitious and kind of innocent, naïve and yet not.

Don’t expect him to be like anyone you actually know who hasn’t been stomped half to death on the school playground.

There. Now you can enjoy the story.

It’s boy wants girl, boy wants boy, boy wants to go to Julliard, boy strikes out on own with band of close friends. Boy and friends connive to get money for Julliard because boy’s father won’t pay. Conniving becomes complex plot involving stolen Buddha statues, stolen identities and conflicted sexual attractions (in terms of gender orientation, age-appropriateness and friendship-versus-lust issues). Teenagers pretend to be nuns, teenagers fake their way through college admissions interviews, and teenagers generally wax dramatic.

At its heart, How I Paid for College contains not only a spritz of Ferris Bueller and a dash of many another ‘80s coming-of-age or just being-a-nerdy-adolescent movie, but also a dash of American Pie-ness (with the schemes, frat-house humor, buddies who really shouldn’t be buddies, and, again, troubling sexual attractions).

Here is a really enjoyable, funny, light novel to brighten your late-fall days — as long as you know the key to reading it.

- Lisa Parsons

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH