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Book Review: Lost in the 90s by Frank Anthony Polito

Kurt is a little obsessed with the 90s.  He blames/credits his parents, who graduated Hazel Park High School the same year he was born (1994).  As a result, he’s a veritable 90s pop culture fountain.  When his band performs at his school’s 90s-themed dance, a wild stage-dive leaves him with a bump on his head…and a trip back in time to the 90s.  As Kurt navigates the past, he also deals with the fact that somewhere nearby are his parents…who are teenagers just like him.  What would happen if he bumps into them?

There are certainly things to recommend Polito’s latest novel.  It’s clear he knows his stuff: the novel is positively filled to the brim with pop culture references from the 90s.  This book will be a trip down memory lane for readers who are filled with nostalgia for the 90s.  Musical references abound in this quick read that’s going to appeal to adult readers more than it will appeal to teens.

Unfortunately, there are elements that didn’t work for me as a reader.  The book is narrated by several teens, and while they all have fairly distinct voices, their overuse of jargon and weird slang felt disingenuous and was off-putting.  I recognize the fact that this won’t be a deal-breaker for every reader, but it was for me.  I couldn’t get past the stilted narration (especially in the case of Kurt), and it made his voice feel less authentic.

However, the novel is frequently funny, and the pop culture references help to make up for the abundance of slang.  There’s some heart at the meat of this story, too, as Kurt struggles to understand that life doesn’t always wait for you to figure your stuff out.  Recommended to fans of 90’s pop culture, but I’m not sure this is a story that teens are going to gobble up.

Lost in the 90s is out now.

Lost in the 90s by Frank Anthony Polito.  Woodward Avenue Books: 2012.  ARC accepted for review via the author.



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