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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Funny Celebrity Memoirs

Need I say more?

I’m not sure I need to. We all know that teens love humorous books, and both of these also fall in the category of books that are very fun to browse through. Brief excerpts from Poehler’s book are available from her NPR interview, and NPH’s website offers a nice intro to the Choose Your Own concept, headlined with “Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?” Ha!

POEHLER, Amy. Yes Please. 329p. photos. reprods. Harper/William Morrow/Dey St. Oct. 2014. Tr $28.99. ISBN  9780062268341. LC 2014037161.  

Poehler is best known for her work on Saturday Night Live and as the star of Parks and Recreation. She’s funny, and teens will find many sentences to highlight in this memoir. Much like her good friend Tina Fey’s Bossypants (Little, Brown, 2011), this isn’t a chronological autobiography. It’s divided into three parts: “SAY whatever you want,” “DO whatever you like,” and “BE whoever you are.” In all three sections, she discusses her childhood, her career, and the people close to her, while purposely or unintentionally spilling out advice for readers. Poehler confesses what SNL skit made her most ashamed, and the steps she finally took to ask forgiveness, as well as her battle with divorce and her looks. Her early improv experiences in Chicago and New York City are heartbreaking and hilarious. She didn’t instantly become famous—she made connections and worked her way up from her lower-middle class Boston background. The work is printed in full-color on glossy paper and teens will be drawn to the photographs of celebrities and artifacts that Poehler included.  A lot of love and graphic design went into its production. Give this to teens who want to make it big on the stage or on-screen or those who enjoyed other celebrity memoirs, such as Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Crown Archetype, 2011).—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

HARRIS, Neil Patrick. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. 294p. photos. Crown Archetype. Oct. 2014. Tr $26. ISBN  9780385346993. LC 2014016637.  

Cultural icon Harris (or NPH as his fans have affectionately named him) takes a clever premise and runs with it in his autobiography written in the same format as the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. Along the way, readers get to choose in which order to experience the events of NPH’s life, from his first stage role as Toto in The Wizard of Oz to his invention of the post-awards show musical number. “To watch the Emmys from a different perspective, turn to page 259. To win your first major competition, report to page 8. Bring a pressed suit, your cutest smile, and a $25 entry fee.” The format can be a bit confusing at times with fake endings sprinkled throughout (beware of Dustin Diamond!), but all the flipping back and forth to sort out the time line is part of the fun. With magic tricks, recipes, a crossword, and invented TV movie plot lines, the varied format will keep teens engaged. However, aside from the amusing gimmicks, there is also an honest and moving story of a child actor who managed to break beyond his Doogie Howser character to build an entertainment career that spans TV, movies, and theatre, all while spending time reflecting on his sexual identity as a gay male in the public eye. Fans of other humorous biographies like Tina Fey’s Bossypants (Little, Brown, 2011) will eat this up.—Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ

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Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.