Monday, March 19, 2012

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin, 2012. 288 pages. Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons. Source: Publisher for review.

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.
Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…
First Sentence:

Here it is, practically mid-September, and it's still too hot to live.
Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, was definitely one interesting read. You can tell because I read it in just a matter of hours last weekend. You can also check out Ms. Zeitlin's guest post.

One of the thing that really pulled me into Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters was that it was not a depressing YA contemporary. Seriously, I not sure how many more sad books I can take, but this was nothing but a light fun read with a set of characters chasing that "perfect" year and the trials that come with being a teen navigating the emotional rollercoaster we call life.
Other than a couple issues with the some of the content of this book (see last section) I thought that Ms. Zeitlin did a pretty good job of depicting the ups and downs of teenagers and their relationships with friends.

Kelsey was one of the characters were at times I liked her, and at others she left me completely frustrated with the way that she treated her parents. What I did like about Kelsey was that she tried to remain positive even when things were not he wanted them to; what I did not like about her was how rude and down right disrespectful she was to her mother. Its one thing to be slightly embarrassed by your parentals, but to to be so argh.
While I liked Kelsey, I thought that Ben was the best character...even though he was not in the book all that much. What made Ben such an interesting character was that he was a genuinely nice guy, and I liked the fact that he tried to warn Kelsey from hanging around a certain no good guy.

What I really liked about Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters was that Kelsey and friends were out to make this the year that they would shine. It was nice to see a book where the main character and friends were trying to be positive rather than a bunch of downers. It was also nice to just read a YA book that had a more positive focus for the main characters, one that was not all about the characters current romantic interest. So, if you have been searching for a YA contemporary with a different spin then this would be the one that I'd recommend.

While I did enjoy reading Freshman Year, I was quite dismayed by all the underage drinking that want on in the book. Most especially since it just did not seem all that necessary to the story or the growth of the character. So, if you are uncomfortable reading YA books where the characters partake in alcoholic beverages, I would suggest passing up on this one, but if it doesn't bother you the writing is really good.

Content (will contain spoilers; highlight to see):
One of the most unfortunate things about this book would have to be the content. I felt that maybe the author, while writing a really good book, maybe went a little far in what she had a bunch of eighth graders do.

Drinking: There is a LOT of underage drinking in this book. From the girls drinking at parties, to partaking in wine coolers, beer, and vodka at one of the girls' house.
Swearing: There is some swearing in the book, but it is more of a blip on the radar compared to all the drinking that goes on.
Drugs: Mention of some juniors smoking pot.
Sexual content: Let's see, Kelsey talks/thinks about sex quite a bit; while also wondering if one of her friend's is/has had sex with her boyfriend. The only other thing for this section would be, how Kelsey very nearly let's a guy take advantage of her at a party (do not worry, she ended up telling him no).

Final Verdict: An interesting tale of friendship, revenge, and hope for a year of greatness.
Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters earns 4 out of 5 pineapples.

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