How I Paid for College

Embezzlement...Blackmail...Fraud...High School.

How I Paid for College is a comic novel about a talented, but irresponsible, teenager who schemes to steal his college tuition money when his wealthy father refuses to pay for acting school.

It's 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside of Manhattan. Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller-type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief, sending underwear up flagpoles and re-arranging lawn animals in compromising positions. The fun comes to a screeching halt, however, when Edward's father remarries and refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Juilliard.

In a word, Edward's screwed. He's ineligible for scholarships because his father earns too much. He's unable to contact his mother because she's somewhere in Peru trying to commune with the Incan spirits. And, in a sure sign he's destined for a life in the arts, Edward's incapable of holding down a job. ("One little flesh wound on a Pekingese is all it takes to get fired as a dog groomer, even if you artfully arrange its hair so the scar doesn't show.")

So Edward turns to his loyal (but immoral) misfit theater pals to help him steal the tuition money from his father. Disguising themselves as nuns and priests (because who's going to question the motives of a bunch of nuns and priests), they merrily scheme their way through embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, and blackmail.

But along the way Edward also learns the value of friendship, hard work and how you're not really a man until you can beat up your father. (Metaphorically, that is.)

How I Paid for College is a farcical coming-of-age story, as if Catcher in the Rye were performed by the kids from Fame .

How I Paid for College is a book for anyone who's ever had a dream...and a scheme.


A witty high school romp ...Acito's characters are a self-consciously eccentric crew, but their haphazard friendships and over-the-top scheming are thoroughly believable. The ease with which Acito has choreographed their crazy capers makes you hope there's lots more where all this came from .
(New York Times Book Review)

Acito debuts with dazzling comic panache . The results is a thumbs-up winner from a storyteller whose future looks as bright as that of his young hero.
(Publishers Weekly, starred review)

Acito proves himself worthy of whatever praise people may want to throw his way. Hilarious . Memorable, warmly described characters. High school as it should have been .
(Kirkus, starred review)

Never a dull moment ...humor columnist Acito's amusing debut is sure to appeal to David Sedaris fans and older YAs.
(Library Journal)

HOW I PAID FOR COLLEGE is funny, moving, in-the-know, and dead-on of those rare books that young adults insist that all of their friends read, one carried around in backpacks just so the reader can be close to it at all times.
(School Library Journal)

A crime-laden romp for college tuition... a 21st century bedroom farce full of sexual antics, songs and high-stakes pranks a la Moliere..."
(USA Today)

A "Catcher in the Rye" for our weird 21st century age.
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

A plucky morality fable long on lessons of friendship and the shortcomings of selfish, self-absorbed adults.
(Gotham Magazine)

Narrated with riotously funny cynicism...It's a coming of age, coming out tale that escapes triteness and predictability, thanks to Acito's eye for the absurd.
(Time Out New York)

HOW I PAID FOR COLLEGE is that most rare of pleasures: intelligent light reading .
(Book Marks)

Acito has fantastic narrative chops , writing funny, fast and satisfying chapters...This is a book for mature readers that reminds us what a blast immaturity can be .
(People Magazine)

Funny, entertaining, and ultimately endearing .
(Details Magazine)

A hilarious series of schemes and swindles reminiscent of the stories of David Sedaris or Joe Keenan .
(Pages Magazine)

A charming first novel... Wicked fun.
(Out Magazine)

Inspired plot ...Set this one aside for your next day of playing hooky and lying on the couch all day reading.

Acito makes an effortless transition from humor columnist to humor novelist and, in so doing, delivers on this fun-filled and farcical teen romp.

Difficult to put down ... Very funny
(London Financial Times)

Laugh-out-loud funny .
(The Leeds Guide)

A seriously adult teen novel... Wildly camp and achingly funny .

Sheer brilliance . Marc Acito's brilliant debut novel is a must read ...with cutting wit, vicious one-liners and some of the best bitching I have read in a long time... A brilliant laugh-out-loud novel .
(City Magazine, England)

An exuberant caper with good period detail.
(Independent, England)