Thursday, March 1, 2012

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters, by Meredith Zeitlin- Review

From Goodreads:
Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

I ate this great little read up in one sitting.  It was fun, fresh, and although slightly boy obsessed, 100% about four girls learning to love themselves and each other at the point in their lives where that's the hardest thing to do.

This is where I segue into remembering having the exact same aspirations as Kelsey when I was 14 and about to embark on my high school adventure.  I vividly remember how full of promise it all seemed, and like Kelsey, being totally disappointed by my decided lack of success off the bat.  I did not meet an adorable boy who thought I was awesome, but I did have a great group of friends who helped me get through most of the embarrassment, and lack of romance.  

What I loved the most about this story, besides its spunk, was how empowering it was.  Kelsey makes mistakes, has embarrassing moments, fights with her besties, but she also discovers that she likes who she is- even without that magical high school transformation.  Which, ironically, is the high school transformation we should all have been lucky enough to have.  It left me in such a feel good place, I wanted to dance around and smile a lot.

But to backtrack for a minute, this book has a great spunky vibe.  Kelsey is a bit of tornado, storming through high school on a single minded mission to achieve a level of high school legitimacy that always seems to evade her.  But the comedy it stirs up is so enjoyable.  Disastrous kissing sessions "Look, I don't think you're doing this right", musical auditions "I come in for my first note, but for some reason the guy's playing it, like, an entire octave up from where it belongs.  I stick to the way I practiced it- nice and low.", and prom dates "Seriously? We've been here for fifteen minutes and my date has already been kicked out and possibly arrested?  This is very bad.  Am I in trouble by association? I've never even tried pot!", I was giggling all the way through.  

Like Kristen Schaal (yah that's right, Mel from Flight of the Concords gave this book a quote, I told you it was good), I think I could have seriously used this book the summer before grade 9 to take the edge off.  I wish I knew someone that age to pass my copy off to, but that would mean I wouldn't be able to read it again for a pick me up, so maybe it's for the best.  However, I seriously recommend you share it with those in need- either of some high school advice or a good laugh.  

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters comes out today, make sure to grab a copy, it's too much fun to pass up.

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters, by Meredith Zeitlin
Published by G. P. Putnam's and Sons, March 1st 2012
Buy Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters on Amazon
My copy kindly provided by the publisher

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