by Dave Amaditz and Marcy Collier
Welcome to March's version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.
This month we're pleased to highlight debut author, Meredith Zeitlin's novel, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters.
1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?
Dave - I picked this passage from the beginning the book, as I believe it sets the stage for all the problems the main character is going to face throughout the novel.
"That's another thing. Guys. How did it happen that I'm the only one of my friends - including Em, the shy one! - who has never hooked up with anyone? Not that I haven't had any chances, mind you. A certain Keith Mayhew has been frantically pursuing me since sixth grade. (He's totally nice, but... I don't like him that way.) I just want my first real kissing experience to be this utterly awesome thing, with the right guy and the right situation. And I know fourteen isn't that old... but it feels like I've totally missed the boat. I mean, I am seriously the only one now. And what if my friends start having sex or something before I even get to first base, and I'm still wandering around, unkissed, unnoticed? I'll just die of humiliation. Not that I can imagine anyone (especially myself) having sex with any of the guys I know - or anything leading up to sex, really. It all seems so awkward and sort of gross... and yet it's what I think about ALL THE TIME."
Marcy - The main character, Kelsey thinks that her mom wants to re-enact her own teenage years vicariously through her daughter. Kelsey never gives in and tries to keep her away from her friends and the latest gossip, until one day Kelsey has a breakdown. This scene is pivotal in the development of Kelsey’s relationship with her mom.
And then the weirdest thing happens. Maybe it’s her shrill, endlessly irritating voice or just the fact that my life is a mess, but I burst into tears. Even as it’s happening I’m surprised, though I guess after the last couple of months this is sort of becoming routine. Thanks, hormones. Anyway, Mom is really surprised. And somehow I find myself telling her all about Cass and Jordan and Em (I do not mention Keith for fear she’ll overreact and drag me to a gynecologist or something) and she actually really listens. Puts down the newspaper and everything.
2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?
Dave - This cliffhanger stood out to me, as I lived the tension right along with Kelsey. Who wouldn't want to die seeing their best friend kissing their crush?
I laugh, looking back up at the balcony. Then the stage lights do a sweep over the audience, and for a moment, the girl's face is illuminated.
It's Cassidy. My Cassidy.
And she's kissing...
My stomach drops to my knees.
Marcy - Kelsey has a major crush on Jordan Rothman. She believes that freshman year will be different, and she and Jordan will start dating even though they’ve barely ever talked.
*** Spoiler alert ***
Then Kelsey sees one of her best friends making out with Jordan. You have to read on to the next chapter to find out what’s happening. Terrific cliffhanger!
It’s Cassidy. My Cassidy. And she’s kissing… Jordan Rothman. My stomach drops to my knees.
3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?
Dave - I switched back and forth between Travis, Kelsey's younger sister, and Mom as my favorite secondary character. Mom won out in the end. She has parenting down pat and deals with the ups and down of teen life with humor. She knows when to back off and give her daughter room to grow, but also knows when to step in, to put her foot down, to say enough is enough.
Following is a response from Mom to Kelsey after Kelsey has just finished confiding in her about boyfriend/girlfriend problems.
Then she says, "I'll tell you this much, honey: Even if Cassidy is experimenting sexually" - GAG! - "she is probably one of the few. Everyone always thinks the whole freshman class is getting it on" - vomit, seriously -"but then senior year you find out it was three people and a lot of imagination. Otherwise 20/20 would be doing a show about it."
Marcy - JoJo beats to her own drum. She is this spunky, outgoing character who is full of life. She is a free-spirit who is always up for an adventure and makes every scene where she appears exciting. You never know what this character will say or do, but she is honest and true to her friends. Her laid back personality balances Kelsey, who is often high strung.
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?
Dave - I picked this passage because it shows how desperate Kelsey feels to fit in. She describes Lexi, a new girl in school, as being beautiful, yet she has yet to realize her own beauty.
"It only takes a single day for me to realize that Lexi is way too busy being admired to even notice me shooting her death-ray looks across every hallway and classroom. She has a lot on her plate, after all, what with crossing and uncrossing her endless legs in their $250 jeans, giggling, and flipping her perfect, evil, cascading blond locks.
Not that I'm spending all my time watching Lexi. Most of the time I watch Jordan Rothman watching her. Day by day, my meticulously imagined future with him slips away from me like a helium balloon on a windy day."
Marcy - This line made me laugh out loud, and I’m quite sure this is how teenagers feel.
My phone vibrates in my pocket, and I take it out to see a lovely text from my mother about dishes in the sink and how she’s not my maid. Thanks, Verizon, I think, for making your phones so user-friendly that even the elderly can send text messages.
5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?
Dave - This is spoken by Keith after a quite awkward kiss with Kelsey, her first. (Boy am I glad I'm no longer a teen.)
Keith glares at me and shouts over the band, "Well, it's more like you're not doing it right. Have you ever even made out before? My brother is in college, y'know, and he told me everything there is to know about Frenching when we were in seventh grade, so I think I know what I'm doing, Kelsey. But don't worry - I'm happy to practice with you till you feel more confident about your skills. "
Marcy - I did not see this accident coming. JoJo and Kelsey are at JoJo’s house drinking. After way too much alcohol, Kelsey brings the bottle of vodka to her lips and smashes the lip of the bottle against her mouth. She doesn’t know she has cracked off her front tooth until she looks in the mirror.