I was privileged to be sent An Authentic Experience, a novel by Kelly Whittmann which chronicles the tumultuous life of 15 year old Silver Abelli, whose parents are former punk rock stars. Silver’s life has always been a bit unconventional because of her parents, she was always homeschooled because her parents didn’t want her to fall into the pressures of public school teen angst. Silvers parents always wanted to give her an Authentic life experience but Silver doesn’t see it as that. Silver is unsatisfied with her parents view of authentic and wants to experience her teens as she sees authentic.
These troubles come to a head when Silvers mother has brain surgery, and Silver is forced to move in with her father who is still attempting to live out his dreams as a rock star, 20 years too late. I couldn’t help but ask myself, does Silvers father love her or his rock star dreams more? And how will his aspirations affect Silvers life? During this summer of Silvers life, she finds what she believes to be her first love, and experiences great trauma while dealing with her mothers illness. There are many moving parts during this time in SIlver’s life which makes it one of the most Authentic Experiences she has had in her life.
While reading this book I found that the author wrote which communicated Silver’s teen angst and how she felt so deeply and concisely, I felt as though I was living through SIlver. When Silver was angsty, my heart raced, when she was down I felt down in the dumps with her; this author conveyed feeling and empathy through pages and that is something very special. I especially enjoyed how the author analyzed the character and makes the reader see that all of the characters have complexities to them.
This book is filled to the brim with teen angst and drama from nearly all the characters, which made it a bit too teenage for me, the relationships involved were incredibly superficial which made me feel as though the characters were too childish. I really despised the teenage crushes, they felt a bit forced and too overdramatic.I much more enjoyed parts with Silver interacting with family, there is deep emotion and complexity during this. There was a particular moment in which the woman in Silvers life come together to support her through the trauma she experiences which I absolutely loved. I could feel how much the characters cared for Silver and wanted to help her through this difficult time.
While this is a Young Adult Novel it holds and conveys many deep emotions and topics on abuse and disclosure of said abuse, Silver must tell the people that she loves the truth of her trauma in order for her to feel free. It amazes me that Silver was able to handle an ill mother, a “boyfriend” and dealing with trauma so well. I didn’t expect to like SIlver’s father, Renz, as much as I did but I appreciated his humor and thought he was a very good father, he truly does love his daughter more than anything. The characters and how they were portrayed through such deep emotions made An Authentic Experience a great novel for Young Adult readers
Silver was an amazing protagonist who is very sure of herself and not insecure which is nice to find in a Young Adult Novel. Silver didn’t care about the teenage social class system and while she is filled with teen angst she doesn’t let that stop her from being a strong young woman. I loved that Silver didn’t choose a boy over her own emotional stability and family, she values herself and is very emotionally intelligent.
A quote I thoroughly enjoyed from this book was said by Renz,
“What is going to be your touchstone? A fucking screen? I pity you. I really do.”
This quote tells of a difference between the generations, previous generations who lived in the moment have tangible touchstones, while this generation will only have screens. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, while remaining relatively lighthearted it handled heavier topics very fluidly.