Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin makes a great book for light reading, but fails to provide the “wow factor” that teenagers desire in a young adult novel.
The novel is about a girl named Kelsey Finkelstein, who wants her freshman year to differ from her normal, boring life up to now, and be unforgettable. With the help of her friends, Cass, Em, Jojo, and Lexi, maybe some unexpected drama and crazy situations will make the year exactly what Kelsey dreamed of.
The main conflict of Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is laid out right in the first chapter, during which Kelsey is having a sleepover with her friends.
I appreciate this setup, because the beginning of a book is vital to readers. The start of thie novel sets up the characters’ different personalities, what kind of challenges are to be expected throughout the book, and it gives an inside look for the reader to decide in a short amount of time if this is a book worth their time.
There are many sub-conflicts tied into this novel. When one problem is solved, another one always opens, realistically like high school. It’s refreshing for the reader to always have some curiosity over a certain problem.
Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters doesn’t have a dull moment anywhere. In the end, after a brief climax, most of the conflicts are resolved to make a clean ending to the story. The rest is up to interpretation.
Personally, I would have preferred to see less of the problems provoking curiosity, but it’s still an acceptable balance between knowing and wondering how the problems are going to be solved.
Most of the characters are very enjoyable. For example, Kelsey’s friends are mostly supportive of her throughout the entire novel, but they knew exactly when to put her in her place. I would have liked to see a lot more development with Em, Cass, and Lexi.
I have to admit that I was not a big fan of Kelsey. She was very self-centered at times, and she treated her parents horribly, not realizing that they are just trying their best and they just want to help. I would have liked to see that relationship improve by the end of the story, but unfortunately I was disappointed.
The writing in this book was great, especially for Kelsey’s voice. Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is basically an inside look into the mind of Kelsey. Readers get to hear her every thought about everything that’s going on.
I really felt as though Kelsey was sitting right next to me, reliving these experiences as she told me about her life. That connection between the main character and the reader is very rare, but extremely appreciated and rewarding.
This book lacks a little on originality. I feel like I have read too many “chick lit” novels that involve a girl trying to get through high school and make the year special, and frankly some have been better than this one. However some of the scenarios in this book I have never read about before, so it wasn’t completely disappointing.
Overall, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a great book for a light read. Readers will not get a “wow” effect from the book, and it isn’t an unforgettable young adult novel, but it is cute, light-hearted, and entertaining the whole way through.