Fresh takes readers back to college in this hilarious, relatable, and realistic read.
Elliot Saves the Day
Quite possibly, the best part of Fresh is the main character. Elliot is a breath of fresh air, reminding r
eaders that we are all flawed and make mistakes.
Stepping into college is always a big step, and for many of us, we can relate to Elliot feeling like a fish out of water. Sure, the freedom to escape home feels great, but entering into the great unknown is also scary. The comfort of home life is our security blanket we all crave, but the need to spread our wings and fly is also inescapable.
In one moment, Wood captures all of the mixed feelings everyone has about entering college, how the fear and excitement overwhelm us, within Elliot’s first scene. Watching her go through the emotions, watching her narrative tell a story and address the reader, make her charming and human. She comes alive in her footnotes (which are must-read) and is also unapologetically herself.
Elliot being herself allows the reader to get to know her, from her flaws to her quirks. The fact that she is unapologetically herself gives her the chance to grow while others challenge her. Elliot makes mistakes… many mistakes, but she learns from them and learns to be a better person. Elliot also learns that while she was living life the way she wanted, she wanted more, giving her a chance to look inside her and see what was missing.
Wood, who, like myself, is an Emerson Alum, captured the culture of Emerson College perfectly. I can honestly say I felt like I was transported back to college. However, was my freshman year as wild as this? Heck no, but I undoubtedly knew people like this, and much like Elliot, I formed a bond with my roommates as she did.
College is a wild ride from capturing the Boston scenery, college life, and bacterial infections (which both my and my roommate Norma can 100% relate to). The reader is instantly transported to Boston, the chaos and order of the busy downtown world.
However, her setting also allowed Wood to address topics like assault and slut-shaming. As mentioned above, Elliot is unapologetically herself, which is good. However, her flaws remind readers that our flaws do not define us, and our actions should not be the sole judgment of who we are as individuals—intent matters.
Moreover, for her Love & Eroticism class (yes, that is an actual class at Emerson), Elliot decided to explore those aspects personally. This opened the door for some to think they can have their way with her and others to call her a slut. These are powerful themes that are part of real life, and to see Wood address them so subtly and profoundly, gives depth and helps balance out the humor of the story.
Fresh is an incredible novel! Wood did such a fantastic job of bringing to life college and the humanity that comes with existing as ourselves without shame and remorse. Wood reminds us that our flaws do not define us but make us as human as others around us.
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|Pub Date: August 3, 2021||Page Count: 352pp||Age Range: 14 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-1-4197-4813-4||Publisher: Amulet Books||List Price: $18.99|