A YA novel tells the story of a home-schooled teenager’s attempts to fit into the mainstream.
Fifteen-year-old Silver Abelli has been brought up to have “an authentic experience”: she is home-schooled by her ex–punk musician mother, Nicola, and works at the family bakery alongside her tradition-minded grandfather. But when her mother undergoes surgery for a brain tumor, Silver must live with Renz, her acerbic, podcast-hosting dad. She has reservations about the upheaval but hopes that it might mean she can finally attend high school like a regular American teen: dress in the latest fashions, ogle the clean-cut football players, and try out for the cheerleading team (“As thrilling as this fantasy was, it made her feel bad. Her parents would feel betrayed, she knew”). With her boy-crazy cousin Natalie, Silver pines after local hunk Jake Sullivan. After a chance encounter at a party, Jake and Silver start talking and eventually dating. Things are finally on the right track for Silver, if only her parents would cooperate. But her mother and father’s still-rocky relationship—along with some unsavory characters from the past that her dad refuses to let go of—will conspire to destabilize the life that Silver is desperately trying to build. Wittmann (Remember Big, 2013, etc.) writes in a sharp, funny prose that perfectly captures the angst and humiliation that define Silver’s usual state. The author skewers the myopia of Gen Xers still so busy railing against the man that they haven’t noticed that they’ve reached middle age and have parental responsibilities. Silver’s concerns as a contemporary teen are documented with equally observant details. At one point, standing before the burned shell of an old punk club, her father bemoans: “It was the place where we all came together, talking, laughing, playing our music, creating. What is going to be your touchstone? A fucking screen? I pity you. I really do.” With pragmatic humor, Wittmann notes that “Silver just kept texting back and forth with Natalie. She didn’t need his pity.” Like every generation before her, Silver navigates the treacherous waters of adolescence with the peculiar tools of her time.
A clever, well-crafted tale about parents and children.