Friday, May 2, 2014

Did I Do That? The Best (and Worst) of the '90s by Amber Humphrey

If spending the night cuddled up with your Beanie Babies collection while watching a "Saved by the Bell" marathon & wearing your Reebok pump sneakers sounds like a great night, then Did I do That? The Best (and Worst) of the '90s is the book for you! Author Amber Humphrey unabashedly wrote this text to celebrate the '90s, the decade in which she grew up. She claims, "It's true, in the 90s, Nirvana was big; people were drinking Zima and wearing flannel... But if you were chilling with your friends by the monkey bars when the decade began and prepping for prom when it ended, then Steve Urkel probably figured more prominently in your version of the '90s than Kurt Cobain. This book celebrates that."

While Humphrey delivers on the promise of writing an "exaltation of the decade's kid culture," I cannot help but wonder if this is the only audience that might find this text appealing.  Did I do That? is published on glossy paper with 90's themed graphic designs and features pictures and references to all things that were "the bomb" in the 1990s.  Humphrey writes each description and reflection of what each toy, boy band, or TV show means to her and (possibly) her generation. She begins by suggesting that readers "flip[ping] through the pages... to revel in the simplicity of childhood... to temporarily escape... the responsibility that comes with adulthood".  While we could all use an escape, I am not sure that Did I do That? is worthy of the precious minutes allotted for escapism these days. Although this texts does highlight some of my '90s favorites (i.e. the Chicago Bulls in their '90s glory and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?), I felt it lacked closure. Amber Humphrey hooked readers in with her almost sarcastic, yet well-written introduction, but she fell short in dedicating the remaining 198 pages with example after example of '90s pop culture.

In fact, I thought it was hilarious that Humphrey included a T-Shirt transfer of Steve Urkel in the back of the text, yet did not complete the text with any real sense of substantive closure. Perhaps I struggled to find the merit of this text because I was a part of the teenagers growing up in the '90s, not children growing up in the '90s... yes, I'm that old; however, I still cannot muster up a reasonable context in which this could be infused into a middle (or high school) literature curriculum. To put it more succinctly, I could see this is an interesting conversation piece or gift for your '90s obsessed friend, but I would not recommend it for independent or whole class study. If you are simply looking for some '90s nostalgia, then, perhaps this book has more redeeming qualities. To be fair, some readers find this text to be exactly what Humphrey wanted it to be: an escape; click here for a review that is a bit more friendly! Or if you were too young to remember the '90s and want a visual of this era, click here.

Maybe you'd like some entertainment to complement your reading of Did I do That? If so, click here for an article about things kids from the '90s wish they could have done. Maybe as you read this (at times) silly text, you'd like to listen to some '90s music, then click here! Perhaps you want to reminisce about of all the things you miss from the '90s; here is an article that does just that-- my personal favorite is the mood ring! While I did briefly bask in the memories of simpler times when we wore scrunchies (thankfully that ended) and read Goosebumps, I would save your $19.95 and have some 21st century fun.

7 comments:

Karra Badakhshanian said...

This book sounds really interesting! While you were a teenager during the 90's, I was a child growing up through those years. The majority of the things you mentioned from the book reminded me of my childhood. From reading your review, I thought it was interesting that you said that it did not offer any closure. What do you mean by this exactly? I can definitely see your point in how this book would not be exactly educational in a school setting. While it offers a little overview and historical "facts" from the 90's, the information from the book will probably not match up with The Common Core or the ACT test. It is more of a "reading for pleasure" kind of book rather than an educational book. From reading your review, I would definitely consider reading this book even though I am not a young adult reader anymore. I think it is good that this book reaches out to different age groups too.

Heather Nelson said...

Great point, Karra! It could be a great book for reading for pleasure. As far as closure, I meant that there was no conclusion; it simply ended with her final review of another '90s trend. I guess I thought it would have helped give the text more continuity with some kind of conclusion, as I found the introduction really helpful. Perhaps my expectations were too high!

If you'd like to, feel free to e-mail me your address, and I will send you the book on me : D. My e-mail address is hnelson03@mail.roosevelt.edu.

btw: I usually try to be much more open-minded, but I (personally) really struggled to read this for pleasure. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.

-Heather

Sarah Millen said...

Okay. I am definitely adding this to my to-read list. I am a 90s kid through and through! :) Awesome review.

Sarah

Heather Nelson said...

Thanks, Sarah!

Heather Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernando Arce said...

This was one of the books that I was considering for the project and after reading this review I regret not reading it, its sounds AWESOME! I grew up in the 90s but never did I appreciate this time period since I was born in 93' and couldn't possibly understand everything that was happening. But I do remember the great cartoons, gnarly foods and the oh so great fashion that plagued my childhood. This book is definitely going on my Summer Reading list.

Brittany Ranney said...

This book sounds like it has an interesting perspective on a decade of a specific culture. From this description I don't see any meaning behind this book other than telling what it was like in the 90s and I also don't see how this could be used in a classroom or what lesson kids would get out of it.
Only 90s kids remember the 90s...