Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disaster by Meredith Zeitlin

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (March 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399254234
ISBN-13: 978-0399254239
Series: No
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: This is a really cute cover and definitely fit the tone of the voice from the novel. It doesn't have a whole lot to do with the book but it would definitely catch my attention on the shelf and I like the design!
First Sentence: Here it is, practically mid-September, and it's still too hot to live.

Mini-Review: A cute contemporary with a strong lead aimed at younger audiences.

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…

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters is one heck of a cute contemporary perfect for all ages. Combining a quirky lead character, loads of awkward situations and tackling some big questions, it is an easy read. While it's not going to change the way you look at things, the main character is hilarious and there is plenty of drama to keep you plowing through the pages.

Freshman Year definitely wouldn't have worked without its lead Kelsey. Though I found her a bit selfish in the beginning I loved watching her grow throughout her year. With each quirky new dilemma for her to deal with, she became a better person and as her frustration and sarcasm where turned to more worthy causes, I liked Kelsey more and more. Her over-dramatic tone made even the tiniest of problems into something huge and therefore made for some great laughs. But what was truly endearing about her was the way she took all of these really terrible situations in stride and instead of focusing on the things she couldn't change, she decides to focus on the things she could. I'm not sure I would have been able to live down some of the crazy situations that Kelsey did but she always tried to remind herself that she could make the best of her situations.

I also enjoyed that there was a little something for everyone in the story. Kelsey played soccer the first half of the book but she also tries out for the school play. All of her friends have their own side stories which affect Kelsey and directly affect the way she sees and treats the world. When I picked up this book, I did so with a smile, excited to get back to the words not because I was invested in the plot and needed to know what happened but because I was generally invested in the character.

Though some of the characters were stereotypical and the plot was pretty straightforward, I liked that the story covered the entire year and the pacing didn’t ever lag. I did feel like some of the sub plots were brought up and forgotten too quickly. This novel also seemed like it was aimed at a slightly younger audience which is completely fine but I not something I tend to read much of. I also wish that Kelsey’s romance had started a little sooner though in all fairness, that is clearly not what the story was about.

While Freshman Year isn't going to change your life, it is a really cute story full of funny situations and the perfect protagonist to survive them. Each potential disaster made Kelsey into a stronger protagonist and her humor made the story special. If you’re a fan of fun contemporary novels geared for younger audiences, Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters is perfect for you!

Favorite Lines:
Years from now, when my mother complains because I don't visit her in the nursing home, I will cite the Loehmann's dressing room as the reason.
--Pg. 14 of "Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Meredith Zeitlin
I wish she'd just eat her toast and reminiscence to herself about her own high school experience...
--Pg. 37 of "Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Meredith Zeitlin
If I hear the words you or know one more time, I may have to burn the school to the ground.
--Pg. 59 of "Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Meredith Zeitlin
...It certainly never occurred to me that I'd ever end up bonding with Lexi in a bathroom next to my crush's foot fungus cream...
--Pg. 74 of "Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Meredith Zeitlin
Within minutes, my who grade will think that I moonlight as a mashed potato scooper.
--Pg. 140 of "Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Meredith Zeitlin
Now I look like an out-of-work Santa Claus who just woke up in an alley after a three day booze binge. In an apron.
--Pg. 231 of "Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Meredith Zeitlin
I don't know if I'm prepared to slow dance with Voldemort tonight.
--Pg. 259 of "Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Meredith Zeitlin


  1. I love the lines you've listed here! They all made me laugh so hard!

  2. I laughed my tail off reading this book!


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