Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

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. (Goodreads)

The Story:

Kelsey Finkelstein has decided that this is it.  Her freshman year is going to be the best year ever. She’s going to have her very first kiss with Jordan Rothman, she’s going to hit outrageous parties and make her mark in a big way.  Even better? Her evil nemesis Jemma Bradley has been shipped off to Arizona, so life is good.

The thing is, Kelsey usually ends up making her mark by accidentally embarrassing herself. And she usually does it big.  First, she somehow manages to make a Junior girl with caterpillar eyebrows totally hate her.  And since they’re on the JV Soccer team together, Kelsey tries really hard to be nice, but Crazy Eyes won’t have it. As Team Captain, she gives Kelsey the most loathed position of all: goalie.

“If, as goalie, you actually manage to catch the ball—which I miraculously did, exactly one time—the players on the opposing team are allowed to try and take it from you by kicking it out of your grasp. This is a rule I liked a lot better when I was on the other side of the net.  All I could do was curl myself around the ball and hang on for dear life in a heap on the ground as a million cleats began swishing toward my head.

Oh, and by the way, you know what makes it extra easy to hang onto a slippery round ball? Padded gloves. Nothing like giant sock-hands to really give you an edge on the field.

Things start to unravel bit by bit as Kelsey gets into a major fight with one of her BFFs and, as part of her Evil Revenge Plot, she ends up trying out and getting into the school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.  As the butcher (a big, fat guy).  On top of that horror, awkward photos of Kelsey keep showing up in the school paper and when she tries to complain about it, a very cute, flirty guy is less outraged on her behalf and more amused by her.

My Take:

I thought Kelsey was hilarious. She had a sarcastic, funny way about her and she never took herself too seriously. And even when she was completely horrified and embarrassed, she kept trucking. She was, as many fourteen year-olds tend to be, extremely self-centered and prone to overdramtic irritation with her family when in actuality, she lives s pretty sweet life.  She had parents who were happily married and who loved and supported her, she had a great group of friends and she was a good student. I was a bit surprised by the amount of boozing that Kelsey and her friends do (I’m a prude. Tell me, is this what Freshman do? I always thought it was more of an Upperclassmen thing), but even at that, Kelsey is basically a good girl who makes solid decisions.

This was a fun book. There no serious teen angst, heavy issues or emo kids. It’s all pure entertainment. It’s a happy read that made me laugh out loud.  The story is light on swoon,but has so many cute moments and funny conversations. The ending made me smile like I’d just watched one of my favorite 80’s teen films. The characters, the humor and the problems are something anyone can relate to.

Crush Intensity: 4/5  Totally adorable! This is Zeitlin’s first novel. You can check her out here.

Kelsey on Her Mother:

“I don’t know why she has this insatiable need to know everything about my life.  I wish she’d just eat her toast and reminisce to herself about her own high school experience (which apparently revolved around thinking Matthew Broderick was cool and having the world’s most terrifying shoulder-pad collection) and leave me alone. I’m starting to understand why breakfast bars were invented—so you can eat and run away from annoying parents at the same time.”

Kelsey on Her First Kiss (omg, this one is my favorite.  I laughed so hard here):

“…He lunges in, and suddenly his tongue is flopping around inside my mouth like a fish dying on a dock.

I think I may be choking to death. He tastes like…rum and Coke and spearmint gum. And panic. If a tongue could sweat, I think his would be.”

Book Trailer:

Special thanks to Penguin Young Readers for sending me an advance copy of this book. I loved it. Thank you!

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters is in stores March 1.


11 thoughts on “Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters

  1. This sounds precious! I’m old enough to say a book about a 14 year old is precious, right? haha! I’m like you though… I didn’t think freshmen really partied that much – like with alcohol – but honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me. I know I personally didn’t drink until college and even then it wasn’t that much. But… I was sort of a goody-goody!

    • I was a total goody two shoes too! And a late bloomer on top of that. Boys freaked me out, especially if they ever wanted to talk to me and I thought that parties and alcohol and everything else were just too wild for me.

    • My first kiss involved no liquor and me pushing the guy away. So romantic! Ha ha! He was my best guy friend and I was like “nooooooo! We’re just friends!” (friends with ginormous crushes on each other, but whatevs). Luckily he stuck it out since I married him. 🙂

      • 🙂 It’s disgustingly cute. He’s the only boy ever. He’s totally my Michael Moscovitz. I always compare him to Michael and to Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife. That’s why I crush so hard on those characters.

  2. As for the freshmen boozing it up, it’s totally true. This year, there was a major party crash in which 30 out of the 60 kids arrested were indeed freshmen. They want to be cool, yo.

    And, GAWD, I want this book. Between your review and those awesome teasers, HOW COULD ANYONE RESIST? 😛 No. Seriously. How?


    • Oh Ahsher, as a mom that just totally scares the pants off me. Eeeuck! As far as the book goes, you should totally read it. It’s just one of those cute, funny stories without anything scary or heavy or overly dramatic. Pure fun.

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