Ah, freshman year: the beginning of high school, the most wonderful years of your life.
WHATEVER. Annie and her friends are beginning to suspect that getting older and heading to high school may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Are they ready for a year of shifting friendships, stubborn lockers, first crushes, team sports, drama geeks, drunken parties, and school dances? Probably not, but it’s here anyway.
Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense
By Corinne Mucha
Ages 14-18, Grades 9-12
Zest Books, July 2011, ISBN 978-0-9819733-6-4
112 pages, $12.99
Zest Books obviously did some thinking before deciding what their first graphic novel should be and that thought resulted in this very funny, very real title that fits perfectly in with their “tell it like it is” publishing philosophy. Mucha’s loose, comic strip inspired style perfectly renders short, snarky stories that paint a true picture of the bizarre world of high school. From the major dramas of friendship and love to the minor ones of schoolwork and clubs, Mucha brings to life the pain and the joy of freshman year. She writes with an immediacy that doesn’t feel like an adult reminising about her teen years, but her tales will be familiar to both those in high school now and to those who have already been emancipated from those hallowed halls.
Taking a tip from popular kids’ comics like Babymouse and Kit Feeny, Freshman is mostly black-and-white, but shaded in an olive green. When combined with Mucha’s scratchy, purposefully cartoonish art, this plays up the humor aspects of the stories, keeping things light. Though 8th graders longing to be out of middle school will enjoy Mucha’s work, the ideal readers are those currently suffering through the madness of their freshman year. They’ll agree with her assessment of their plight and appreciate the glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Zest Books.