Theater geeks of all ages will enjoy this coming of age novel Even non theater geeks like myself can enjoy it It s the funniest book I can remember listening to in a long time One word of warning advice to young people who read this book Don t try these things at home in real life This is fiction with a happy ending Real life doesn t always work out that way I ve heard it said that great works of literature speak to each other Toward the end of this book there is an example of not so great literature i.e this book speaking about great literature There s a lengthy discussion toward the end of the book about the book, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce The scene is a class room of high school seniors who have just been given an assignment to write a paper about who they are now in the same spirit of James Joyce s Portrait which they have just finished reading The protagonist thinks to himself that he is so much like Stephen Dedalus the main character in Joyce s Portrait.Oh by the way, the book How I Paid For College has way too much sex in it for me to recommend to anybody else to read.The following short review is from the 2007 Book Lover s Calendar First Time OutTheater geeks of all ages will cotton to this madcap coming of age novel Edward Zanni is accepted at prestigious performing arts school Julliard, but Dad and wicked Stepmom won t pay He initiates a scheme crazier than the plot of a musical comedy to pay the tuition Acito won raves for his debut Wittypitch perfect The New York Times , funny, fast, satisfying People , and endearing DetailsHOW I PAID FOR COLLEGE,by Marc Acito Broadway, 2005 This book started off pretty good and entertaining but then it went downhill and the plot and storyline got too unbelievable and out of control I would have enjoyed just reading about the lives and antics of several play people high school students I didn t need all the stuff about money laundering and blackmail I ended up kind of skimming the last 100 pages I did enjoy a lot of the musical theater, pop culture references and it was a fluffy enough read for what I was in the mood for I needed good bubble bath literature. I like the narration SO MUCH that I can ignore the insane things going on in the book It felt fresh and wise and so so funny It was one of the best books I ve read recently, my only complaint would be that view spoiler it wasn t totally a gay book, it was a bisexual book, and I think the character didn t fully experience his homosexual desires hide spoiler Absolutely one of the funniest books I ve read to date Gordon Korman meets Ferris Bueller in a story where the characters get caught up in a hilarious and crazy wacky scheme that totally snoballs out of control, beyond anything they can imagine.It is the mid 80s, and all 17 year old Edward wants is to enroll in the drama program at Julliard But when his father remarries the most psycho of psycho step mothers, Edward gets kicked out of the house and learns he can kiss his college plans goodbye Unable to qualify for financial aid, Edward recruits his group of eccentric friends to help him get into the college of his choice All they have to do is borrow the identity of a long dead teen, skim some cash from evil stepmother s secret bank account, and set up a phony scholarship that is so specific only Edward could meet the qualifications What could go wrong Absolutely everything p.s Oh yeahthere s also dressing up as nuns, sneaking into a gay bar, and the theft of a 3 foot ceremic green Buddha. I love me a good gay catcher in the rye story anyday UHH I really thought I would like this book because I like books about precocious teens and theatre and stuff, but this book was just like, insane I felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy or whatever and just ended up being absurdly unrealistic And Edward, the protagonist, was basically unlikeable I get that he was supposed to be an insecure, self absorbed teenager but like damn was he ever Also, this book was way long and slow moving Next time I want to read about self aware theatre kids I will just re read Will Grayson, Will Grayson I guess. Hilarious Every theatre person needs to read these books because we have these friends This novel gave me a nightmare about being forced to ride through the Napa hills in the lap of a closeted gay teenage boy driving a motorcycle as his mass of shiny black curls flowed in the breeze He wouldn t let me off the motorcycle I wish I were kidding.My overall impression of this novel is that it was both aimless and horrifying There is not a scruple to be found amongst the main characters of this cynical, oversexed ode to theater life in 1983 suburban New Jersey.Edward Zanni is a large Italian American boy with an even larger singing voice, about to enter his last year of high school before moving on to Juilliard to pursue his musical theater dreams His ample in every way pal Paula precedes him and he is left to cobble together a social life from the remaining Musical Theater rabble He scrounges up his ex cheerleader girlfriend Kelly who he routinely dry humps in front of students and faculty alike , jock turned actor Doug whom he would also like to hump, ever present tagalong Natie Cheesehead Nudelman, and terminally glamorous Persian transfer student Ziba This cast of clowns makes a real mess of the book as they clumsily try to have sex with one another in varying configurations, regularly defile a ceramic Buddha which serves as a motif for the chapter headings , and perform various theater related tasks in between Edward s arts oriented mother is MIA, having split to find herself years earlier and recently gone off the radar in South America, leaving him to contend with a business focused father and drug addled sister.When Edward s father abruptly remarries, to a gold digging German photographer, Edward finds himself edged out of his home and sans one financier for his college education Luckily his friendship with Natie the Cheesehead has really taken off, because it turns out that Natie is a devious mastermind who develops an evolving strategy to raise Edward s tuition money via a mix of good old fashioned hard work to which Edward is ill suited, of course and felonious white collar crime The whole gang gets dragged into the hijinks, including Paula up at Juilliard, and things get crazier and crazier right up to the bizarre ending.The story is not exactly bad, I did finish the whole thing after all, but it is definitely a lot of book The writing is good but many of the things that are supposed to come off as funny just seem cruel, gross, or worst of all stupid Edward is pretty hard to like despite his struggles with his sexuality, abandonment, self worth, and even impotence If he doesn t want to have sex with a peer, he looks down on them If he does want to have sex with a peer, they are nothing but an empty vessel for the fulfillment of his carnal desires For all his nastiness he is rather cowardly I could see this novel appealing to a certain kind of person who feels very outside someone with a big personality, struggling with non hetero normative sexuality, who really loves the theater and is very self absorbed When Edward wasn t ignoring his father he was making close minded cracks at his expense, so I found his entitlement issues in regard to college tuition a little hard to take.The strongest part of the novel is probably the fact that Edward grows up a lot by the end of it He is able to see the friends he has cast into various stereotypes as real people put on Earth to do something other than fill the stage of his life He finally gets to know Kelly as a person with personality and talent rather than a stock pretty girl who fills out a pair of terrycloth shorts really well The much maligned Natie seems destined for things much greater and perhaps terrible than any of the others So it goes as well for Ziba, Doug, and to a lesser extent Paula.This is not a bad book but it s graphically sexual, holds nothing sacred, and is at times just plain mean I usually read YA to avoid these kinds of attitudes The fact that Chuck Palahniuk recommended the author for publication says a lot about the novel s sensibility, but I can t agree with the claim that he is a gay Dave Barry. It s 1983 though you really can t tell except for how Reagan s in office and Edward Zanni s on top of the world It s the summer before his senior year, he s been accepted to Juilliard, and life just couldn t be better, but everything screeches to a halt when Edward s father tells him he s not paying for his son to go to acting school So Edward and his friends pull together and make a plan The title pretty much says it all nerd power, capers, sexual experimentation, con artists, and cross dressing I really enjoyed this once I got past the opening chapters This book starts off with a flamboyant, completely over the top tone, and Paula and Edward aren t introduced so much as shoved at us, and Edward thinks he s straight I don t know WHERE he got that idea This is a guy who sings, dances, loves musicals, name drops Liza Minnelli, and compares himself to Bette Davis I nearly gave up But, around the fifth chapter, Edward admits he s attracted to men, and I decided there was hope for him yet and kept reading I m glad I did Edward quickly becomes a real person He s brave and lazy and likes boys, and girls too, and he s scared about his future, and in love with people he can t have The nerd across the street Natie Nudelman, possibly my favorite character in the whole book plots ways to help Edward pay his tuition, and then there s the aforementioned capering Their group of friends has the jock, the theatre people, the nerd, and the foreign girl, but they re not stereotypes and each contributes something unexpected to the group dynamic This basically reads just like a young adult novel, but with actual sex I just wish Edward could have had positive experiences with gay sex the few encounters he did have were mostly a result of coercion, and that s just not sexy fun Though, for the most part, this novel is.Four stars good for people who like teenage sex comedies, nerd power, dressing up like nuns, frustrated gay lust, petty crime, blackmail, musical theatre, lesbians, and making your own family out of whoever s around I m already mentally standing in line for Acito s next novel. A Deliciously Funny Romp Of A Novel About One Overly Theatrical And Sexually Confused New Jersey Teenager S Larcenous Quest For His Acting School TuitionIt S In Wallingford, New Jersey, A Sleepy Bedroom Community Outside Of Manhattan Seventeen Year Old Edward Zanni, A Feckless Ferris Bueller Type, Is Peter Panning His Way Through A Carefree Summer Of Magic And Mischief The Fun Comes To A Halt, However, When Edward S Father Remarries And Refuses To Pay For Edward To Study Acting At JuilliardEdward S Truly In A Bind He S Ineligible For Scholarships Because His Father Earns Too Much He S Unable To Contact His Mother Because She S Somewhere In Peru Trying To Commune With Incan Spirits And, As A Sure Sign He S Destined For A Life In The Arts, Edward S Incapable Of Holding Down A Job So He Turns To His Loyal But Immoral Misfit Friends To Help Him Steal The Tuition Money From His Father, All The While Practicing For His High School Performance Of Grease Disguising Themselves As Nuns And Priests, They Merrily Scheme Their Way Through Embezzlement, Money Laundering, Identity Theft, Forgery, And Blackmail But, Along The Way, Edward Also Learns The Value Of Friendship, Hard Work, And How You Re Not Really A Man Until You Can Beat Up Your Father Metaphorically, That Is How I Paid For College Is A Farcical Coming Of Age Story That Combines The First Person Tone Of David Sedaris With The Byzantine Plot Twists Of Armistead Maupin It Is A Novel For Anyone Who Has Ever Had A Dream Or A Scheme, And It Marks The Introduction To An Original And Audacious Talent