FICTION

Fresh

Abrams/Amulet. Aug. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419748134.
COPY ISBN
Gr 10 Up–Eliot is headed to Emerson College to begin her freshman year, and she really only has one thing on her mind: sex. When one of her classes gives her the opportunity to have a bunch of casual hookups with her peers in the name of writing an essay about love and eroticism, Eliot jumps at the chance. However, she soon learns that casual hook-ups aren’t fulfilling and that they are putting the few quality relationships she has formed at risk. The first half of the novel provides a compelling story with a good amount of conflict, but it falls flat in the second half. Eliot’s character grows during this portion of the novel, but that is the only thing that happens. It felt as if the book continued following the characters through the rest of the school year simply because it was meant to be set over the course of the school year, and not because there was more story to tell. This debut has echoes of Jane Austen’s Emma, (for example, Eliot sets her roommate up with her first boyfriend, only to realize he is not a good guy, similar to the way Emma attempts to set up Harriet with Mr. Elton), but the connection is pretty subtle. It will appeal less to Jane Austen fans than a firmer retelling, and the graphic, sexual content could be off-putting for some teens.
VERDICT An additional purchase for libraries where sex positive titles are needed.

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