Age: Young Adult
Species: Human (specifically teenage freshman girl)
Interest: DAC/Requested Review/Cute Cover
Source: E-Galley from G. P. Puntam's Sons
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. (summary from goodreads.com)
First, I need to fan girl over that cover a little bit. Isn't it so cute? That has to be a total 100% Kelsey Finkelstein approved glamour shot. (Much better than a certain Reflector photographer could do.) The rain clouds tie in perfectly to Kelsey's rather stressful freshman year. I love that the model is holding up a huge umbrella, a perfect symbol of Kelsey's relentless positive attitude.
I feel it is important to disclose the fact that I am not a fan of high school. The assignments, the boring march of classes, the utter drama, the whore- *ahem* hormones were not things I dealt well with. My freshman year (or my entire high school career actually) was never as dramatic as Kelsey's experience, but it's not exactly a time I like to think about. I'm not sure I would've survived without my friends. When a book about a freshman girl is dropped into my lap and I not only like it, I love it, is a huge freaking deal. This book is pretty awesome.
I loved Kelsey. She was so ready to put herself out there and "make something happen" in her freshman year. Most of her escapades ended in a hilarious level of embarrassment which made her determination to keep a positive attitude all the more endearing. Her flair for drama, exaggeration and daydreaming were a bit unbelievable at times, but just so funny it was easy to go with it. Kelsey is an amazing friend, even though there were instances where she was a bit selfish, she always brought herself back to thinking about the people that meant the most to her.
Speaking of the besties... Em and Lexi were my favorites. I was Em in high school, that quiet girl that just wanted everyone to be friends. Lexi was the girl I always wanted to be, with perfect hair, good looks, boys fawning over me and a sweet gig as a school news reporter. JoJo was a great friend, even when she was playing Switzerland and keeping major secrets. Cassidy, I didn't want to like because of her selfishness, but I admit she was there for others when it really counted. Other characters in Freshman Year like Kelsey's family, a senior bully and others definitely shape who Kelsey is and how she reacts to situations, but were just comic relief to me beyond that.
One of the things I greatly enjoyed was the "real" portrayal of teenagers in Freshman Year. There was a bit of drinking, smoking weed, hook ups, betrayals, even the mention of sex. While I realize not all teens are like that. (I certainly was not one of them.) It's still nice to see a book for teens that has teens actually acting like teens if that makes sense. I also loved the fact that there were consequences. Oh yes, I get a sick satisfaction when people who are doing something they know they are not supposed to be doing get busted for it. (SPOILER
I was extremely proud of the fact that Freshman Year contains a lesbian character. For some reason, having gay men in books is becoming totally okay, but lesbians are somewhat off limits. I was even more excited that while the character coming out was a big deal, her being a lesbian was not a huge focus of the book. Her being gay was not a large issue that leaked into and over shadowed everything. It was just part of what made the character, that character. I was so happy about that.
Overall Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters was an extremely cute (and pretty short) read that many teens (maybe some adults too) will love. This book has the perfect mix of drama, humor and growing pains to make freshman year seem almost bearable! Meredith Zeitlin is definitely a debut author to watch, I can't wait to read what she releases next.
Teaser Line: "I just... I wanted my first kiss to be special, so I never let it happen."