Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin: Review

288 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2012 by G.P. Putnam'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.

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…


So the website says Kelsey Finkelstein is going to be your new best friend.
And guess what? That makes me HAPPY.
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zaitlin, to-be-published by G. P. Putnam and Sons, was exactly what I needed to get over missing school-life like hell, missing my girlfriends and all the sleepovers and late-night giggling over who's-doing-what-where. Seriously. This book is a breath of fresh air, a tome of escalating fun, something that will make you clutch your sides and just laugh because it is SO. DAMN. CUTE.
Not to mention sarcastic in the best sense. And perfect for girls who are not afraid or ashamed to show their girlish side. And pure awesome.
And you know why it is pure awesome? Because the protagonist is. And you know WHY she is so awesome? Because she's just like one of us next-door girls.
Not perfect, not beautiful enough to cause a certain gravitational reaction of the male species' mouth, and definitely not a princess who gets everything she wants. She finds herself embarrassed by fussy parents, picked on by seniors, backstabbed by friends, shopping in awful departmental stores, wearing a fat suit, being freely provided with unrequired and completely unasked for photo-publicity in the school newspaper, having her heart broken and fixed and tooth broken and fixed and I don't know, I loved this book.
So Kelsey Finkelstein was almost a nobody in her old school, and this freshman year she is determined to sparkle. With the help of friends JoJo, Em and Cassidy, she seeks to outshine every other girl and get the yummy Jordan Rothman to herself. But it's a long year, and getting noticed by Jordan is going to take some inventive competition on Kelsey's part. A little difficult to accomplish because everything that actually works out in Kelsey's favor seems to have, let's say, a catch. Each of her friends seems to be keeping some secret, and a senior is out to make Kelsey's life hell.
Not much when it comes to a plot, simple stuff fit for the 11-16 demographic, but it's still fun basically because every girl's had one of the troubles that Kelsey goes through.
(Talking about that, if you want an amusing account of a Jewish play that I once performed in, keep reading after this review is over)
So anyway. I loved this book, and I'm sure you will if you've ever gone through freshman year. Seriously, this is LOL stuff. You'll love Kelsey and her friends, and you'll love the situations that they get themselves into, and you'll miss school if you're like me and have moved on to college. I loved how each of her friends had a different problem, and how these problems seems so complex to Kelsey although they really aren't: exactly how we used to feel at 14 when an unreturned missed call or a tantrum threw us all into a total frenzy.

VERDICT: Four and a half stars. For making me laugh in the middle of the night loud enough that my parents asked me if everything was okay and had I, perhaps, lost my mind a bit?

SIDENOTE: That Jewish Play.

Okay, so you guys know the story of Ruth? So our school did a play on Ruth, and I was Boaz- the rich landlord guy she ends up marrying- (because I can sing bass, you know, pretty well) and the whole thing turned out hilarious though it wasn't really meant to be. The hilarity started with my costume: a bright red satin robe thingy that kept billowing around me, and a headdress that looked like a pumpkin without the orange panels. I mean, everyone else had yarmulkes and here I was, sweating inside a pumpkin. I had a spirit-gum affixed moustache as well, and on the second day, it came off a bit while I was onstage rambling about Moab and families and brethren. I sneezed. Into my lapel mike.
And then backstage, we forgot to turn off our mikes and two lunatics were dancing around in the toilet singing a Bollywood song and the audience heard half of it. The audience mostly consisted of priests and nuns and I guess that didn't go down very well with them.
And then onstage, a friend skipped a dialogue and I was supposed to say something after it: something about red ribbons or Gentiles or something, and all I said was "red ribbon". Then we all stood there staring at each other for five full seconds in total agony before a song came on and saved us.
Oh, and someone nearly fell into the orchestra pit while leading imaginary sheep across the stage.
Tee hee.

Why am I saying this? Because this book has a Jewish play in it! And it's totally hilarious! And I kept thinking about running on stage and singing my angry-Boaz song the whole time, I even hummed it. So, yeah, I totally dig this book. I LOVE IT, so go READ IT!

(This book was received as an e-ARC from the publishers in return for an honest review; no money was exchanged )

Stuff to check out:
The Website
My Goodreads Review


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