Props to the author/agent/editor/publisher of How I Paid for College for coming up with a subtitle that really encapsulates the entire novel in one breath: "A novel of sex, theft, friendship and musical theater." That's really what it is. No, really.
When Edward finds himself screwed by a new stepmother, overbearing businessman father and no way to pay for his lifelong dream of attending acting school with the best young actors of America, he turns to his friends for support. His friends from his lifelong love of musical theater. Who happen to have a flair for the dramatic, so what?
And they may or may not try some not-so-legal methods of obtaining money for Edward's college tuition. And being a male high school senior, Edward may or may not - ok, definitely may - think about sex a lot. And being narrated by Edward, How I Paid for College may include a lot of Edward's thoughts about sex (and sexuality). And being narrated by Edward, it also may include a lot of references to musicals and a lot of disdain for his parents and a lot of "oh-my-god-I-have-the-worst-life-ever-of-any-talented-young-actor-ever."
It's actually a completely accurate (sometimes shockingly so) account of what I think a tuition-starved, desperate, neglected talented young high-school age singer and actor might think, and that is what makes Acito's novel a success. Though it may be overbearing at times (I'll admit to wanting to just slap Edward more than once), it is overbearing in an authentic, I-totally-know-high-schoolers-who-act-like-that kind of way. And though audio may include clips of Edward breaking into song, it's authentic in that musical-theater-nuts-totally-do-that-all-the-time kind of way.
Bottom line (and some notes on the audio): It took me some time to warm up to the narrator's voice, but a few CDs in, he was a convincing Edward, carrying on about the joys of entering senior year and the difficulties of parents who just don't understand. Though Edward is obnoxious, he is also understandable. How I Paid for College is a coming-of-age novel that truly follows Edward come of age and grow into himself; as he comes to understand himself, we come to understand him, too.
The audio is well done, with aforementioned musical clips minor enough so as to be entertaining instead of distracting.
Many thanks to the Anne Arundel County Public Library for providing a review copy of this title, as well as so many other wonderful audio books. You rock.