Thursday, March 1, 2012

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters ~ Meredith Zeitlin (earc) review

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters
G.P. Putnam's Sons
March 1, 2012 (today!)
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon/or Book Depository

Life has not been quite as amazing, so far, as fourteen-year-old Kelsey Finkelstein would have liked. With the start of her freshman year of high school, however, Kelsey endeavors to change that. No longer will she let her parents, her annoying little sister, or the annoying quirks of life in general get in her away. Kelsey is thinking positively and has decided that this year is going to be a good one.

As she, along with her best friends wild and crazy Jojo, theatrically inclined Cass, and the quiet and reserved (at least around everyone else) Em, start the new year it looks like things just might be taking a turn for the better - if not great. Kelsey's rival on the soccer team has moved cross-country, finally giving Kelsey a shot at standing out on the team - and possibly at the girl's former boyfriend.

Quickly enough, though, it becomes clear that things aren't quite as sunny as Kelsey thought they were. An upperclassmen is ready to make Kelsey's quest for soccer stardom much more difficult than she imagined. And a pesky school newspaper photographer seems to be waiting around every corner, ready to capture unflattering photos of Kelsey.

Will Kelsey's resolve be enough to make freshman year a great one or will the new school keep coming up with new trouble for Kelsey, her friends, and maybe even her friendships?

Sometimes I'm wary of YA books with younger main characters because they can seem juvenile or harder for me to relate to than the older YA characters, I'm so happy I read this one (when asked), though. While Kelsey is just fourteen, Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters, does a great job of both making the characters seem their ages so that readers of the same or similar age can relate to them and it also reminds older readers of what it was like being that age (without coming across as someone older and wiser).

Zeitlin's book reminded me a lot of ninth grade and the way you do have to feel certain things out - both with starting high school and also with the way friendships change.

My freshman year was definitely not as dramatic as Kelsey's but I really enjoyed the way the girls' relationships with each other changed throughout the book and how different characters affected each of them (and their friendships, too). I thought it was really true to how things are at that age.

While I do know that teens drink - ninth grade and younger, too - I wasn't a huge fan of all the drinking in Freshman Year. It was more of a personal thing, but I'm not sure it was all necessary (not everyone drinks -which true was shows, but sometimes it's nice to read a YA novel without it or with it downplayed).

Meredith Zeitlin did a fantastic job , especially considering this is her first novel, capturing what a really tricky time in life (freshman year) is like extremely well and with incredible humor to boot*. Her characters were lovable and their friendship was great. Each of the girls is unique and has their own personality that shines through and though they're all different, you'd probably want to be friends with almost all of the girls in this book (with the exception of one and you'll know who after you read the book!).

Rating: 9/10

digital galley received for review, thank you :)

*yay on my fun phrases

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