I wonder if I would have liked this book as much if I hadn't already been familiar with Moshe Kasher as a stand-up. I wonder if I would have liked this book as much if I hadn't related so strongly to the boy it described, who couldn't stop himself from screwing up no matter how much he wanted to.
But those questions are moot. I was already familiar with Kasher, and enjoy his stand-up quite a bit. I find him incredibly intelligent, and very good at subverting what seems like fairly standard, offensive/un-PC humor. And man do I relate to that boy that Moshe Kasher was. I may not have been raised by deaf parents, nor am I Jewish with an ultra-religious father, and I didn't slide as far as Kasher, but I very easily could have, very nearly almost did. Additionally, Kasher is only a couple years older than I am, so a lot of the cultural touchstones mentioned here are the same I experienced. I felt like I was Kasher, or could have been. I knew him. He was just like some of the kids I was hanging with, sharing forties and smoking weed and taking pills. Screwin' up.
It's probably because I related so strongly that I was able to overlook most of the problems of the book, some of which are fairly glaring. The biggest issue is that Kasher doesn't go out of his way to separate his voice from the voice of his 13 through 17 year old selves, so a lot of times he comes across as, well, a dumb kid who is acting out. He says offensive things, and we don't really get much of that intellect that Kasher injects on stage to defuse or flip the obnoxiousness. Still, that's not to say that the book is without insight, and the further you get in to the book, the better it gets. By the end, it's actually quite touching, and I'm not afraid to admit that I teared up quite a bit once Kasher finally found himself and started to heal rather than just numb the pain.