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Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters Hardcover – March 1, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a lighter but still accomplished look into adolescent female friendship ... Love triangles, unfortunate photographs, soccer bullies and a mother who thinks she understands ‘Typical Adolescent Behavior’ are just some of the obstacles [Kelsey Finkelstein] runs across in this sitcom-paced, laugh-out-loud book."” —NPR

“Zeitlin offers a story that encompasses all the horrors and thrills of starting high school ... A hilarious look at freshman year, this story serves to prep the incoming for the best and the worst high school has to offer.” —Booklist

“Kelsey is a funny, likable heroine who experiences realistic school and relationship problems that any teenage girl will be able to relate to…[an] enjoyable diversion.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will enjoy this humorous story where friendship, family, and self-acceptance are much more important than plans for greatness. This coming-of-age novel will not only entertain but also educate those transitioning into high school. It is a quick read bound to appeal to a female audience.” —VOYA

“As the humorous mishaps mount in this laugh-out-loud coming-of-age novel, Kelsey gains insight and perspective through introspection and dialogue with friends. The values of good friendships are further evidenced in the honesty Kelsey and Cass show when they reconcile. In a sweet reversal, Kelsey finds that one of her many disasters has introduced her to a new guy who is, indeed, worth the wait.”—School Library Journal


“Cute and sassy, open-minded and truthful, Kelsey Finkelstein will be your new best friend.”—E. Lockhart, author of The Boyfriend List and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks


“Meredith Zeitlin accurately portrays the rocky road of starting high school with humor and heart. Kelsey's character is realistic and believable, navigating disaster after disaster with strength and her trademark wry commentary. Friends, foes, drama, and love—Freshman Year is full of it!”—Erin Dionne, author of Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies

“When I was transitioning into high school I would have been better off had I read Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters. Kelsey and I would definitely have been friends.” —Kristen Schaal, comedian featured on The Daily Show and Flight of the Conchords


About the Author

Meredith Zeitlin is a voiceover artist who has worked in commercials, film and television shows. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399254234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399254239
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,532,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reasons why you should read debut author Meredith Zeitlin's totally charming and funny book, FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS:

The main character, Kelsey Finkelstein, is the real deal. She is the essence of a high school freshman -- optimistic, funny, self-absorbed, prone to crushing on boys, and straddling the line between still being a middle school kid and venturing into full-on scary/awesome teenagerdom.

Admittedly, Kelsey's cooler than I was as a freshman (parties didn't exist to me til at least junior year, and there certainly weren't any boys who wanted to kiss me), but her life is pretty average. Normal family (loving and a little quirky and oftentimes annoying), great group of friends, decent social life, everyday problems --- but FRESHMAN YEAR makes those things interesting and fun and oh-so-relatable.

With all the epic epicness of OMG instalove in upper YA, it was a breath of fresh air to read about a girl with a hardcore crush (on an undeserving jerk, FYI) but who is not blind to the buffet o' boys that the world offers her. She has romantic interactions (both positive and negative, to varying degrees) with FOUR separate guys in this book... and NONE are portrayed as the be-all, end-all to her world.

My favorite, favorite part of FRESHMAN YEAR was Kelsey's group of friends. First off, the ups and downs of their relationship far overshadowed any boy drama in the book (for this alone, I want to hug Meredith Zeitlin). They're unique without being stereotypically quirky, and I loved the realistic, ever-changing dynamic of the girls as they grew up and apart and together again.
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Format: Hardcover
Some are born popular, some achieve popularity, and others (like Kelsey Finkelstein) intend to thrust themselves into popularity in their freshman year of high school. Or, at least, that was the plan.

`Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters' is the debut young adult novel by Meredith Zeitlin.

Sometimes I think I might be getting a little too old for certain YA books... I don't get `Bieber fever', I have no intentions of listening to `One Direction' and I have started asking sales assistants to "please turn the music down just a smidge?" in clothes shops. Then a book comes along that reminds me I can still be young at heart, and live vicariously (and happily) through a character and be transported back to a time when high school was the be all and end all. `Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters' is just such a book, and Kelsey Finkelstein is just such a protagonist.

When the book opens, things are looking up for Kelsey. She has grand plans and high hopes - her arch nemesis has moved away, she's going to be the star of her school soccer team and resident boy-crush, Jordan, is in her sights. High school, Kelsey is sure, is going to be the turning point in her life...

And then it all goes horribly wrong, naturally... Kelsey is betrayed by one of her best friends. She's cast as a bearded fat man in her school play and she lost an arch nemesis, only to gain a new one in high school. So much for grand plans and high hopes.

Zeitlin's book is a frolicking joy ride through the pitfalls of high school, but it's also a book to prompt reminiscence. Kelsey's story is a page-turner, mostly because her bumbling ways will hark you back to your own high school days...
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Format: Hardcover
When I first heard of Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disaster, I was so excited. It's being buzzed as perfect for fans of two of my favorite contemporary authors - Lauren Myracle and Meg Cabot. I saw a few mixed reviews for it, but I was eager to get my hands on it.

Freshman Year is as funny as it promises, almost too much so. Kelsey has the worst luck. Ever. Pretty much everything that can go wrong with her "rebranding" does. At times I found myself going, "Really?!" But I giggled along, so it was fun in a predictable sort of way. I even found myself laughing out loud in some parts, because it was just so funny the situations she found herself in!

Rant time: I don't usually get appalled easily by characters' bad behavior, but the characters in this book likely need Alcoholics Anonymous or will by the time they graduate. For freshmen in high school (13-14 years old for you non-US people), they all drink much more than I ever heard anyone doing while in school. I know, it's a book, but this made it feel so unrealistic. There is no major punishment for their drinking. At one point it was mentioned they actually drank prior to their freshman year; there is one side character who is insecure because she doesn't drink, everyone else does. They aren't even drinking wine coolers or beer (most of the time) so it kind of grated on my nerves.

Aside from the drinking issue being out of hand, Freshman Year really was a cute read. There is some BFF drama that I adored and it made me think back to my own friends in high school and even middle school with our petty situations. You have a character questioning their sexuality which is always a pleasant surprise in any book, because I feel it deserves as much attention as possible.

This one may not be for everyone, but if you are wanting something that might make you giggle you might consider picking it up!
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