Fifteen-year-old Silver Abelli’s life has been as tumultuous as the punk rock she was raised on. Her divorced parents just don’t get along, even though they’re both musicians who stubbornly spurn the mainstream but secretly crave the limelight. Silver has always lived with her mom, Nicola, but when Nicola is diagnosed with a brain tumor, she must go to live with her obnoxious, hard-partying father, Renz. Because her family is so traumatized by Nicola’s condition, Silver doesn’t know where to turn when she suffers her own trauma. Will the truth set her free, or will it only make a bad situation worse? Find out in this story of family, friends, and young love.
CW: Rough language, one scene of violence
Author: Kelly Wittmann
Thank you to the author for the free e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
An Authentic Experience is a teen story about Silver, who has had a non-traditional childhood. Her parents agree on only one thing: They want her to have an “authentic” life. That means homeschooling her, encouraging friendships with people who are not her own age, and exposing her to the music they love (and once created). After her mother has a brain tumor removed, Silver spends the summer living with her father and nursing a burgeoning relationship with a really hot football player whose Catholic, family-oriented upbringing stands in direct contrast to her own.
In the beginning, Silver wants nothing more than the “normal” teenage life her parents are trying to save her from. She wants to go to public school, talk about boys, and do teenager things. But throughout the book, Silver begins to find more of a balance between what she thinks she wants and what she really wants, which is a nice happy medium between that and the “authentic experience” her parents have attempted to cultivate for her. Unfortunately, a traumatic experience (which feels like selling it short to call it that, but I don’t want to give away spoilers) hastens that discovery for her.
While I liked Silver more than I expected to like a teenage character who wants to rebel against her parents, I did feel like the story lacked a bit of structure and plot. It was really more of an account of her summer, with a climax that came almost out of nowhere, than a story that builds with tension and makes you wonder how it will all resolve itself. Still, it didn’t drag, and I was happy to pick it up and keep reading.
I also really loved who Silver had started to become by the end. Although I’m not sure how I feel about what happened with her boyfriend — a little more development could have helped that “moral” shine through.