Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

“How I Paid For College,” by Marc Acito

Broadway Books, 2004

My only question is: how had I never heard of this book before — on my great hunt for the best contemporary historical fiction?

Of course I have just updated my list, to include this crazy little book.


Set in a small New Jersey “bedroom” community in 1983, the hilarious story follows a 17-year-old kid through a summer of family trouble, money woes and sexual misadventures (and misunderstandings). Some people call these sorts of books “college fiction.” You know, one of those in-between novels, where the protagonist is young, but we righteous parents-teachers-gatekeepers might be nervous about our innocent kids reading about the things he is doing — thinking — or even just obsessing over.  (A little confession: I don’t yet know how I would feel about my own son reading this book when he becomes a teenager. Maybe I’ll be okay with it. I honestly don’t know yet. That — even though I consider myself a mix of a traditional/liberal person — and I DEPLORE censorship! Even though I myself laughed and cried through the book! Talk about a hypocrite!)

I was blown away by Edward —  the sheer nuttiness of his life  and the fierceness with which he tries to get back onto the road of his future. His voice  felt so real, it was impossible for me not to believe even the most shocking scenes I was reading  (like his Julliard audition). If you are brave enough to read this book, expect it to seriously DISTURB you at least once — expect to perhaps not always understand — but to nevertheless fall in love with Edward and his marvelously unconventional group of friends and supporters. 

Most of all, be prepared to turn those pages — this is one of those so-much-going-on-it’s impossible -to-put-the-damn-thing-down stories that sends your heart rate skyward!



November 12, 2010 - Posted by | Book Impressions | , , ,


  1. I read this a few years ago and was blown away. I want to read Attack of the Theater People next.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | November 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. I know, right? Marc Acito is a genius.
    Is “Attack of the Theater People” by him also? I am going to track this guy down and interview him for this blog — I AM!!

    Comment by Katia Raina | November 12, 2010 | Reply

  3. Yes, it’s the sequel. This post brought back such good memories of the first that I bumped it up my pile and started reading it today.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | November 12, 2010 | Reply

    • I am honored my post made you do that 🙂 And now the sequel is on MY list!!

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 13, 2010 | Reply

  4. Loved this book, loved the sequel! I didn’t even realize it was in present tense until partway through because I was so glued to the antics and the story.

    If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, this should be your first. The reader is a wonderful singer as well as a reader, and he brings Edward to life! The songs just add to the atmosphere and the joy of this quirky rollercoaster ride.

    Loved it loved it!

    – Liz

    Comment by Liz Czukas | November 13, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for stopping by, Liz. Now I am DOUBlLY motivated to try and interview this author. Wish me luck! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 13, 2010 | Reply

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