COMING OF AGE by G. Wayne Miller


The True Adventures of Two American Teens
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 After a year of hanging out with Dave Bettencourt, a Rhode Island high school senior, Providence-based journalist Miller (The Work of Human Hands, 1992) concludes that, ``yes, it is more difficult to grow up'' in today's violent, media-plagued society. A member of Burrillville High School's Class of '93, Dave planned to make senior year memorable for himself and the school. The principal creative force behind Total Godhead, an irreverent, often vulgar underground newspaper, he incurred the wrath of both teachers and the in-crowd students, who objected to being called ``hairy gnome scrotums'' and worse. But Dave had his supporters too, in particular his basketball coach, who recognized that he was ``more dedicated than skilled'' but fulfilled his dream of starting in a varsity game, and the honors English teacher, who found Dave to be creative and imaginative, ``untypical'' for his age. While Dave vacillated between aiming for a career as a stand-up comic or sportscaster, his parents pressured him to concentrate on the sciences. (Ranked 10th in his class, his SAT scores were good enough for acceptance at the University of Rhode Island.) His girlfriend, Beth Sunn, a 15-year-old cheerleader at another school, horrified Dave's friends and family with her dress and demeanor: in gang-girl garb, she had big hair and talked trash, imitating the rappers she saw on MTV. But she was also a natural beauty, played soccer and tennis, collected teddy bears and Sesame Street dolls, and had a passion for shopping. As Miller follows their relationship through the school year, he notes their ideas and attitudes on sex, marriage, AIDS, money, education, and each other, even providing a glimpse into their diaries. Hard to say how ``typical'' Dave and Beth are of today's teenagers, or how much Miller's presence altered the very reality he wanted to observe. But his mostly successful exploration of their interests, anxieties, hopes, and dreams is certainly worth a look. (17 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-42326-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1995


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