12 March 2012
REVIEW: FRESHMAN YEAR & OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS
Series: No, standalone
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release date: March 1st 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
Kelsey Finklestein is fourteen years old and starting freshman year. This is the year for Kelsey to make an impact and assert herself in the school's social pecking order. But Kelsey attracts disaster, like honey attracts bees. This year will certainly make Kelsey stand out, but maybe not the way she wanted.
Review: First off Kelsey was hilarious. I absolutely adored her, and wished she was real so that I could be her friend. She would easily be the kind of girl everyone loves hanging around with because she's funny, although not always intentionally, and witty and just herself. Whilst Kelsey tried to get noticed in football and drama, she ended up being the centre of attention for the most embarrassing reasons with all the evidence spread across the school newspaper. Despite this she always came out on top, and this was down to her fab and strong personality, and sense of humility and humour. I warn you now that you will fall under Kelsey's spell, quite literally. I pretty much embarrassed myself on the bus whilst rolling around in fits of laughter!
Although Kelsey and her friends were only 14 years, they did seem older in some ways (either that or I was a very slow bloomer!) as Freshman Year gently touched on issues of friendship, first kisses, sexuality, bullying and figuring out who you are. This stage in everyone's life can be turbulent and stressful, yet Zeitlin managed to touch on these issues without making a big fuss and turning the story into a lecture on being yourself. For younger girls, Kelsey would be a great example and role-model of how to deal with difficult situations by picking yourself and carrying on with a laugh and a lot of determination.
Not to be overshadowed by Kelsey, the secondary characters are also really interesting and each with their distinct personalities. I loved Em, who is reliable and caring. And there is Kelsey's mum, overprotective and thinking she knows best (which includes picking out some hideous items of clothing for poor Kelsey). A typical mother, trying to do her best but struggling to let go of her 'baby', she does the exact opposite of what Kelsey would like, but it certainly added in some humorous mother-daughter exchanges that add element of reality and cringing.
Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a fast, fab and hilariously funny read with real insight into the pressures teenage girls face today. I think every teenage girl should read this, along with their parents to help them remember what its like to be a teenager when every little thing is a big drama and life is full of discovery, uncertainty and excitement.