Fire and Ice is today’s stop on the blog tour for Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin.
She is joining us for an exclusive guest post …SO, WHAT ABOUT MY FRESHMAN YEAR?
“My freshman year was both really hard and ultimately really rewarding. I started at a brand new school that year, which was really nerve-wracking. I missed my friends from middle school and could barely find my way around the place! But I actually ended up loving it – I did make friends, and figure out where to sit at lunch, and got cast in a lead role in the school play, and somehow ended up on the lacrosse team – a sport I’d never even heard of before. (In a related story, I was TERRIBLE at it. But I stuck it out, just like Kelsey does with soccer in the book.)
Of course, this is me as an adult looking back – at the time I know I was incredibly frustrated much of the time. It’s so hard to be new. It took a long time for things to be mostly fun instead of mostly terrifying.
I’ve been asked a lot during this book tour what I’d say to myself if I could go back in time, and the answer is: PLENTY. To be honest, I think Freshman Me would probably roll her eyes and tell Future Me I had no idea what I was talking about – I mean, what would you say to some nosy old person who claimed to know all about you and tried to tell you how to run your life? But I’d give it a shot, anyway.
I’d tell her not to try so hard, and to trust that people will like her even if she isn’t always “on,” or cracking a joke, or proving she’s right about everything. I’d love to explain to her that all the other fourteen-year-olds are just as insecure about themselves as she is. I’d definitely inform her that the guys she agonizes over are not worth her agony, and that she doesn’t have anything to prove.
I’d tell her not to suck up to that junior after the cast list for the fall play goes up. “It backfires!” I’d say. “Someday you’ll be working this moment into a YA book – stay away from her!”
I’d encourage her not to go into Manhattan to stay over at the apartment of a random girl she barely knew from camp. “She turns out to be really weird and live in what is essentially a room filled with garbage!” I’d insist. “This is not going to be the cool adventure you think it’s going to be!”
I’d try really, really hard to talk her out of the darkish-brownish-burgundyish lipstick she insists on wearing. Oh, and I’d suggest she find out something about Kurt Cobain – like, the name of more than one song he sings, for instance? – before she hangs pictures of him all over her locker. (I wouldn’t tell her he dies on her 16th birthday. That would just be mean.)
I’d tell her she’s pretty, even if she doesn’t think so. And that she isn’t fat. And that her parents aren’t ACTUALLY out to destroy her, even if it seems that way.
And the things I’d want to warn her about the next three years after ninth grade? Or college? Well, that list would be too long for this post.
The truth is, there’s a good reason we can’t go back and reveal these things to ourselves – we have to learn the hard way. It’s what makes us the adults we become, I think. And we probably know that truth, even as we’re slogging through the mess of freshman year – even if we don’t realize it til much, much later.
Of course, being able to read a book about anothergirl whose life is a disaster doesn’t hurt. So that’s really why I wrote this one. For fourteen-year-old me… and all the real freshmen who are trying to figure it out right now.”
About the Author: Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles.
“Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters” (Putnam, March 2012) is her first novel.
You can learn more about the book on her website/ twitter/ facebook.