This new novel for young audiences, An Authentic Experience, by Kelly Wittmann reminds us of our own angst-ridden teenage years when things that now seem trivial would “ruin our lives”. Remember when the perfect guy spoke to you, and your heart did a flip? Remember when your parents were so-oooo embarrassing? It’s bad enough with “normal” parents, but with frustrated musicians who refuse to accept the changes in music and musical talent, well, how can a kid survive?
Silvera (“Silver”) Abelli is the daughter of divorced musicians. She lives with her mother until mom has brain surgery, and needs convalescence time. Mom moves in with her own parents, and, under protest, Silver is sent to live with her dad – her selfish, immature, crude, crass, pot-smoking, sometimes drunk, dad.
Silver’s parents insist on her being home-schooled by her mom because they want her to have An Authentic Experience in life. They want her educational experience to be without the mean girls, without the fashion-conscious competition, without the risk of social media bullying, and with what they consider “real” music. The problem is that dad, Lorenzo (“Renz”) is not the best father figure – not even close. He curses to and in front of Silver, he uses drugs at home, he brings coarse women into his home with Silver there. Worse yet, Renz doesn’t recognize that his “friend” is too interested in Silver. Her mom, Nicola, still has a bit of a teenager mentality, too.
When Nicola fears Silver would get pregnant, I loved it that Silver thought to herself “Didn’t her mom understand that teenaged girls just didn’t do that anymore? It wasn’t cool. It wasn’t a way to keep a boy. It wasn’t a way to live.” Unfortunately, this is not true.
An Authentic Experience is a modern-day coming-of-age novel complete with the dysfunctional family that most people have in one way or another. Considering the difficulties of her home life, Silver handles herself with far more maturity than most 15-year-olds would or could. True to issues with which today’s kids are faced, the story includes a foreign-exchange student who is a lesbian, and a hot varsity jock who was bullied as a child. An Authentic Experienceprovides much food for thought and discussion. It was difficult for me to read because I quickly became weary of the teenage angst, and the poor job of parenting her parents provided. Silver was mature beyond her years because she had to be.
What Makes This Book Reviewer Grumpy?
This could have been a much better story, if the editor and proofreader done better jobs. It both angers and frustrates me that the pros did not catch the following errors.
- There is a huge number of phrases with no spaces in between the words;
- spaces in the middle of words;
- an extra apostrophe in the phrase, “Rock ‘n Roll” so that it repeatedly reads: “Rock ‘n’ Roll”;
- sentences without punctuation at the end;
- missing commas;
- several words with the last letter missing;
- verb tense disagreement;
- pronoun/verb disagreement (“lots of people… was there but…”)
- missing capital letters on proper names.