Title: Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Released: March 01, 2012
Page #: 282
Source: Copy from the publisher
"So let's say you're fourteen and live in New York City. (Well, technically you live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which is very close to and almost just like Manhattan... except not.) You'd think your life would be like a glamorous TV show, right? And yet...
You don't have a checking account, much less a personal Black American Express Card. No fake ID, either - not that you'd pass for twenty-one in a million years, even if you did. The only couture in your closet is a Halloween costume your mom made out of an old laundry bag when you were eleven. You've never been to a club or had a drink served in a martini glass or, frankly, done anything really NYC-ish at all.
You definitely don't have any secret powers, or friends who are vampires, or magical weapons stored in your parents' basement. You're about as normal and totally boring as a human being living in the most exciting city on the planet could possibly be. In other words? You're me: Kelsey Finklestein.
But don't despair, people - I'm starting high school in less than a week! This is going to be the year that I live up to all of my untapped potential - finally. I have to say... I'm feeling almost optimistic."
"Here it is, practically mid-September, and it's still too hot to live. I'm in the den trying to find anything worth watching on TV (fat chance on a Sunday night), and I can feel myself melting all over the couch. I love how my parents spend a million dollars putting in central air and then don't want to use it because it's 'technically fall.'"
This book is absolutely hi-larious. Seriously, I LOL-ed through the entire thing. And y'all should know by now that I don't take LOL-ing lightly. And I tell you, I laughed enough that my husband thought I was losing it. And then I read parts of the book to him - which I never do - and he agreed that it was mildly humorous (but what does he know).
So, Kelsey... new Freshman. She and her three best friends have planned for this to be the best year ever. They're all gonna get boyfriends, excel in some activity, and totally make their mark on the world. But somehow, things are starting to fall apart. One of the friends has taken herself out of the equation. Kelsey is humiliated at every turn and is pretty sure that she'll never be the awesome person she planned on being.
The true gems of this story for me were all of the situations Kelsey found herself in. Like... wearing a hideous red blazer on the first day of school. Or her picture showing up in the school newspaper more often than it should. Or several intense soccer incidents. Or, you know, other stuff that I'm not going to ruin for you. :) Each one of them has enough hilarity in it to account for an entire story. But not Kelsey - she just continues to be awkward and wonderful.
I loved the dynamic of the four girls' friendship. They're trying desperately to keep their friendship in tact through their freshman year. It's hard and they seem to constantly be butting heads, but their friendship comes first. I think that's sort of an awesome lesson for those going through the same thing. Life changes, but your friends don't have to.
You guys, the ending is hilarious. Or, really, the lead up to the end. Things just get hilarious - and luckily Kelsey can laugh at the situations. I had to put down the book a couple of times to get myself together. :) Just so well done and it feels a little like you're reading someone's journal - not in format or anything... just the types of details and how snarky things get. I know the summary up there seems to be all about NYC, but I honestly forgot most of the time where it was set. This is totally a character driven story and it does that so well.
I will absolutely be recommending this book to many, many readers. I think it would be great for upper middle school and up. There are a few drinking situations and semi-sexual mentions that wouldn't be good for younger kids... but I think they will love it. Of course, it might scare them out of freshman year all together. I really hope this author has plans for more stories about Kelsey - I will totally read them. Though, I'd probably read anything she writes at this point!
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