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Jennifer Niven quit her job as a television producer to write the true story of a doomed 1913 Arctic expedition in her first book, The Ice Master, which was named one of the top ten nonfiction books by Entertainment Weekly, and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. She received high praise for her follow- up arctic adventure, Ada Blackjack, which detailed the life of one woman who overcame enormous odds to survive. Now, Niven tells a survival tale of a different kind; her own thrilling, excruciating, amazing, and utterly unforgettable adventure in a midwestern high school during the 1980s.

Richmond, Indiana, was a place where people knew their neighbors and went to church on Sundays. It also had only one high school with 2,500 students, and for both the students and the townspeople, it was the center of the universe. In The Aqua-Net Diaries, Niven takes readers through her adolescent years in full, glorious—and hilarious—detail, sharing awkward moments from the first day of school, to driver’s ed, and her first love, against a backdrop of bad 1980s fashion and big hair. Like Chuck Klosterman in Fargo Rock City, Niven’s talented voice perfectly captures the pain, joy, and shame of going through adolescence in America’s heartland, making a funny, touching, and universal experience.
Published: Gallery Books on
ISBN: 9781416959205
List price: $10.99
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High school in middle America in the 1980s: this is Jennifer Niven's memoir of high school in suburban Indiana. Like any other high school student Jennifer angsts over her weekend dates, spends hours on the phone, and is profoundly embarassed by her parents. She spends time dreaming up ways to cut school and acquire alcohol. In other words, this is the story of an entirely unremarkable high school experience. Most of us will find plenty in Niven's narrative that sounds familiar. Reading this book is quite a bit like reminiscing about high school with one's old friends at a reunion. That said, I'm not sure that there's anything more to this book. I absolutely loved Niven's novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, but I was disappointed in this memoir. The memoir was neither as deep nor as interesting as the novel. This is a light and entertaining read, but there's not a lot more to it.more
This is a memoir about going to high school in Richmond, Indiana, where people are happy in a wholesome Midwestern way and nothing much happens. I got a little tired of reading about immature pranks involving trashing people's cars and passing notes about so-and-so's outfit, but every time I considered putting the book down, there would be a genuinely funny anecdote. So I found the book patchy and uneven but sometimes enjoyable. A one-time boyfriend of the author told her that she was so complicated, it was as if there were all these boxes and she wasn't letting anyone in, and this was a problem with the narrative too. I don't think there was enough introspection or depth.more

Reviews

High school in middle America in the 1980s: this is Jennifer Niven's memoir of high school in suburban Indiana. Like any other high school student Jennifer angsts over her weekend dates, spends hours on the phone, and is profoundly embarassed by her parents. She spends time dreaming up ways to cut school and acquire alcohol. In other words, this is the story of an entirely unremarkable high school experience. Most of us will find plenty in Niven's narrative that sounds familiar. Reading this book is quite a bit like reminiscing about high school with one's old friends at a reunion. That said, I'm not sure that there's anything more to this book. I absolutely loved Niven's novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, but I was disappointed in this memoir. The memoir was neither as deep nor as interesting as the novel. This is a light and entertaining read, but there's not a lot more to it.more
This is a memoir about going to high school in Richmond, Indiana, where people are happy in a wholesome Midwestern way and nothing much happens. I got a little tired of reading about immature pranks involving trashing people's cars and passing notes about so-and-so's outfit, but every time I considered putting the book down, there would be a genuinely funny anecdote. So I found the book patchy and uneven but sometimes enjoyable. A one-time boyfriend of the author told her that she was so complicated, it was as if there were all these boxes and she wasn't letting anyone in, and this was a problem with the narrative too. I don't think there was enough introspection or depth.more
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