This is Really Happening by Erin Chack

This Is Really Happening
Erin Chack

Razorbill Books (Penguin Teen)

Twenty-something pop-culture ezine writer Erin Chack illuminates her world for a teenage audience in This Is Really Happening.

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” . . .a talented and funny writer . . . .”

The book is essentially a series of blog posts that range from Erin’s beating cancer at age nineteen, to how to drunkenly pee in an alleyway in London, to how to recognize the difference between a bear and a friendly stranger while couch surfing and everything in between. Erin is originally from suburban, middle-class, white, shopping-mall-crazy New Jersey–no real surprises there–but it does make one wonder if New York publishers realize the vast majority of American readers hail from elsewhere, don’t live quite-so-privileged existences, and might prefer to hear a voice more attuned to their experiences.

The topics in this memoir are skewed widely, whiplashing the reader between the sacred and the profane with little or no regard to tone. When Erin turns her considerable writing skills to deep introspection about facing cancer, young love and growing up, she comes across as mature and sensitive. Unfortunately, the editors must have felt young adult audiences can’t live without a certain number of potty humor and binge drinking episodes, so these chapters are included as well, to the detriment of the overall book and belittling Erin’s gift. For it is rare for a young woman to be able to explain her philosophy on life and death at the tender age of twenty-five in such a relatable manner. Alas, bragging about how the biggest story you’ve written for work to date is “29 Things You Should Never Do When Banging a Dude” and how much you enjoyed wetting yourself in kindergarten doesn’t quite convince the reader you realize which themes are the more important to tackle.

Erin is a talented and funny writer, and, in time, one would hope she would choose to focus her skills on writing stories with meaning to engage audiences of all ages.


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Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews