A Memoir of Flunking Out, Falling Apart, and Finding My Worth
In this “sometimes painful, always compelling story of a high-school dropout” (Peter Goldman), Christopher Zara breaks down his winding journey from dropout to journalist and the impact that his background had in the world of privilege.Boldly honest, wryly funny, and utterly open-hearted, Uneducated is one diploma-less journalist’s map of our growing educational divide and, ultimately, a challenge: in our credential-obsessed world, what is the true value of a college degree?
For Christopher Zara, this is the professional minefield he has had to navigate since the day he was kicked out of his New Jersey high school for behavioral problems and never allowed back. From a school for “troubled kids,” to wrestling with his identity in the burgeoning punk scene of the 1980s; from a stint as an ice cream scooper as he got clean in Florida, to an unpaid internship in New York in his thirties, Zara spent years contending with skeptical hiring managers and his own impostor syndrome before breaking into the world of journalism—only to be met by an industry preoccupied with pedigree. As he navigated the world of the elite and saw the realities of the education gap firsthand, Zara realized he needed to confront the label he had been quietly holding in: what it looked like to be part of the “working class”—whatever that meant.
"Zara’s tale is perfectly paced, told with powerful prose and invigorating candor. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this must-read memoir offers hope to anyone who worries the weight of their past stands in the way of their future."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In a brisk, entertaining narrative, Zara recounts his bumpy path from a checkered school career that included many detentions, suspensions, and, finally, expulsion to an impressive position at a major media venue. [...] A savvy account of an interesting life path."—Kirkus Reviews
”Maybe traditionally uneducated, but Christopher Zara is the valedictorian of the school of hard knocks. His ups and downs are told here with sly wit, candor, and heart. I loved every page of this eye-opening cri de coeur, the bad times and bad jobs revisited with self-blame but refreshingly without bitterness.”—Elinor Lipman, author of Ms. Demeanor, Good Riddance, and other novels
“A sometimes painful, always compelling story of a high-school dropout who hungered for a life as a journalist but lacked the ticket for admission: a college degree.”—Peter Goldman, bestselling author and former senior editor at Newsweek
“Christopher Zara’s Uneducated is a piercing, heartbreaking, heartwarming memoir of triumph in the face of the societal challenges that confront so many of us. He offers a clear-eyed view of America’s education gap, as well as the implosion of media over the past decade, that none of us can afford to ignore.”—Nick Kolakowski, author of How to Become an Intellectual and editor of Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Hope, and Terror During a Pandemic
“An inspiration for anyone who has ever felt othered and forged their own path—I was rooting for him every minute.”—Patricia Black, creative director, actor
"Whatever happened to that weird-looking introverted kid in high school who just disappeared one day? An engrossing read, honestly told and at times both hilarious and heartbreaking, Uneducated is a universal tale of defying the odds, of proving to yourself and to others that, yes, there is a place in the world for people who fit outside the mold."—Angela Di Carlo, comedian/singer-songwriter