Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cringe (Book Review)

Thursday, January 9, 2014 11:06 AM with 6 comments



Edited by: Sarah Brown
Publisher: Crown
Number of Pages: 256
Release Date: August 26, 2008

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Did you keep a diary during your teen years? Do you have a box of loopy-cursive, never-sent notes to your crush? Or some overwrought poetry about your bleak existence? An unfinished rockopera? Well, you’re not alone, and in Cringe, you’ll find a reason to unearth your adolescent angst and have a good laugh—at yourself.

A compilation of real teenage diary and journal entries, letters,
songs, stories, and lists—along with biting commentary, background, and self-examination from the now so-called grown-ups who wrote them—Cringe offers a voyeuristic glimpse at the roller coaster of youth in all of its navel-gazing, soul-searching, social-skewering glory.

Inspired by the New York–based reading series of the same name, Cringe will help you realize that being a grown-up isn’t all that terrible. At least you don’t have to worry about who’s going to be at the mall anymore.


The compilation Cringe put two thoughts in my head: 1. I'm not alone! Look at all these other people who wrote the same things as me when they were angst-y teens, and 2. Wow. I thought I was way more original than I really was. Look at all these other people who wrote the exact same things when they were angst-y teens. 

Cringe is hilarious. A somewhat meaningless compilation full of excerpts from old teen diaries that is nevertheless so fun to read. I cannot even tell you how many times I laughed out loud, but it was definitely a few. My favorite part of the book was reading the reflections of the people who wrote the entry and/or the editor's comments on the entry. Cringe came about from the editor's reading series that was held in a Brooklyn bar. As this book was published a few years back I don't know if that is still a thing, but what a great idea. I personally still have volumes of my old journals and the reading series sounds both mortifying and absolutely hilarious.

I related to this book so much it was almost painful. It made me long for the days when I wrote in my diary. When me and my best girlfriends would go to the local coffee shop and chain-smoke cigarettes and nurse the same cup of coffee for hours on end and just talk and write and talk and write. (For the record, I quit smoking years ago.) Yes, the teen years are full of heartbreak and rules and homework and cliques, but they are also filled with crushes and best friends and freedom from real life. I wouldn't go back there, but I loved the little writer girl I was. I loved my journals and bad poetry. I loved having a crush on the cutest senior boy when I was a sophomore and the ways in which the smallest interactions between the two of us could keep me going for days. Reading this book made me want to pick up a pen and just write, write, write, but I just find it so much harder to write about my life now. I'm a happy woman, for the most part (for real, I am), but writing about my job or my husband just isn't nearly as fun as writing about that cute boy in my Algebra class or the ways in which my parents just don't understand me. Maybe it's easier to write when you are younger because you don't really know who you are yet or what is going to happen in the future. Who knows what college will be like or who you'll end up with. Adult life just isn't as interesting because it is so much more set in stone. Wow, so this review is getting both too personal and too melancholy so I'm going to pull out now. 

If you kept a journal as a teen, read this. I loved it. 

Some of my favorite lines:

"When you get to the point where your friendships are the largest source of drama and turmoil in your life, that's a pretty good indication that you're finally ready to start dating."

A poem entitled: For Insert Name:

"I lumber like the sad clown with the hope that my performance might make you smile." And the commentary: "This poem was originally written and given to a girl named Juanita on October 21, 1993, but was subsequently rewritten and regiven to six or six crushes until 1995. Maybe a good lesson to learn here is to never begin a love poem with a lumbering sad clown."

"Neil Patrick Harris was everything a small-town girl on the cusp of puberty could want: cherub-faced, devoid of body hair, and gay."


  1. this! I will definitely have to check this out. I, too, kept a journal, and I've been tempted to rip it up, shred it, or burn it, just so I never have to relive those angsty teenage years again. It also doesn't help that my mother found it at one point after I'd left home, and well, I'm sure you can guess how that went. o_O But I'm sure this book will make for some pretty funny reading, especially because of your first two thoughts. :P Great review...I didn't even know about this book until your Stacking the Shelves post the other day.

    1. You should. It's really quick and fun. I can't even imagine having my mom find my old journals. That's mortifying. I honestly don't even know how I found this. I love to surf the library website and it just looked fun. I hope you love it if you pick it up!

  2. haha I love that quote! I feel like I need to buy this book and give it to some of my teen clients so they know that the drama doesn't last forever! I'll have an eye out for this one! Thanks for the review, I hadn't heard of it before.

    1. It's a few years old. I just happened to find it in my library's catalog. I think teens would in enjoy this, but I think adults who used to be angst-y teens would enjoy it more. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. This book does sound like a lot of fun, I'll have to check it out. Your comment about the smallest interactions keeping you going for days...I totally remember that happening for me too! I have a book of very angsty poetry from eighth grade that I still have and pull out every once in awhile...I was very dramatic. ~Pam

    1. I was super dramatic, too. That's what I'm saying I was both happy and sad to see that I wasn't very different from every other teen after all. I definitely recommend this. It's really fun.


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