Share the shame.
In the days before blogs, teenagers recorded their lives with a pen in top-secret notebooks, usually emblazoned with an earnest, underlined plea to parents to keep away. Since 2002, David Nadelberg has tapped that vast wellspring of adolescent anguish in the stage show Mortified, in which grown men and women confront their past with firsthand tales of their first kiss, first puff, worst prom, fights with mom, life at bible camp, worst hand job, best mall job, and reasons they deserved to marry Simon LeBon.
Following the same formula that has made the live show a beloved cult hit, Mortified the book takes real childhood journals and documents and edits the entries into captivating, comedic, and cathartic stories, introduced by their now older (and allegedly wiser) authors. From letters begging rescue from a hellish summer camp to catty locker notes about stuck-up classmates to obsessive love that borders on stalking, Mortified gives voice to the real -- and really pathetic -- hopes, fears, desires, and creative urgings that have united adolescents for generations.
Starred Review. If the only way to heal painful high school memories is to laugh at someone else's painful high school memories, this book can accurately be labeled the antidote. Based on Nadelberg's stage show of the same name, this is a raw, hilarious compendium of real childhood and high school journals, essays and letters, with rueful commentary from their now-adult writers-each of whom deserve applause for their bravery and generosity. Entries enumerate the dumb-founding horror of sexual awakening ("I like him. But I don't know if I like him. But I don't hate him. I don't wanna like him!"), the frustration of feeling different ("I hate Black History Month. It's the one month out of the year when white people feel comfortable to ask me all sorts of strange, inappropriate questions") and the bizarre dreams of adolescence (such as one contributor's Duran Duran fan fiction, which must be read to be believed). Unafraid to delve into sex and drugs, Nadelberg even includes some charming amateur erotica written by a clueless twelve-year-old. Illustrated with great awkward-phase photos, this treasure-chest of confusion and angst will make readers squirm and smile with the realization that, as Nadelberg puts it, "we were all that same strange kid."
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Mortified by David Nadelberg
Growing up in a suburb close to Boston, I was a real city kid -- a homebody. I mean, I left the house to ride my bike around or hang out with my friends, but I preferred to stay within like a one-mile radius if I could help it. There was nowhere else I wanted to be.
When I turned ten, my parents decided to toughen me up. They sent me to a rustic summer camp in Vermont for two months. The place had no electricity, no running water. The cabins had only three walls. And campers were strongly encouraged to swim naked, as the native Indians had. It was like a POW camp for kids whose only crime was growing up in the liberal suburbs.
The following is some correspondence from that summer between myself and my parents.
July 1, 1976 (First Day)
Dear Mom & Dad,
I am fine. Today I tried the swimming test. I only made it across the docks two times. Dinner is great here!
P.S. I made a lot of friends and one especially named Peter.