Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters


Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (Copy provided by Putnam)

Fourteen-year-old Kelsey Finkelstein has been dreaming about freshman year for some time now. She’s been dreaming about just how great this year is going to be. This is going to be her year, the year she makes a name for herself. With her new positive attitude, Kelsey has high hopes of landing a spot on the JV soccer team — and winning hottie Jordan’s heart. But Kelsey quickly finds out that dreams don’t always come true.

Freshman year is one unnatural disaster after the other. It starts with a very unflattering picture of her (tripping, of course) plastered to the front page of the Reflector, her high school’s newspaper. And ends with her being cast – as a man – in the spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

As if this isn’t bad enough, she catches best friend Cass making out with Jordan, the same Jordan Kelsey has been crushing on forever. This is too much to handle, especially for a fourteen year old. Will Kelsey survive long enough to tell the tale that is the unnatural disaster called freshman year?

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, written by debut author Meredith Zeitlin, is a fun-filled glimpse into the life of a fourteen year old girl. For the younger audience, it will give a scary glimpse into the ups and downs of freshman year. For the older audience, it will let us travel back in time to relive all of those “unnatural disasters”.

Zeitlin’s writing is precise and sharp. Each sentence is well structured, each chapter is well crafted. Reader’s really will appreciate the conversational tone this book has. Kelsey’s voice is real, and often times feel as if a close friend is relating a very personal story. Bottom line, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is unbelievably real.

Zeitlin’s characters are uniquely her own creations. Their voices are youthful, fresh, and authentic. They are easy to relate to, and reader’s will find a bit of themselves buried in each of the characters. Kelsey is a great character. In many ways she’s a typical fourteen year old – a bit scattered and overly self involved. But in so many ways she’s far from typical. She takes everything in stride, she’s smart beyond her years, and she’s willing to turn a bad situation into a good one. She’s a strong character that reader’s will remember.

This is a book full of messages – be yourself, you don’t need to drink (alcohol) in order to fit in or be cool, honesty is the best policy – but these messages don’t weigh down the book one bit. In fact they are weaved into the story so well, reader’s won’t feel like their being preached to. And that’s a hard thing to do. Zeitlin’s managed to weave solid life advice into a short two hundred plus pages.

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a quick read that will leave reader’s laughing loudly. It’s charming, full of memorable characters, and has some real swoon-able moments.