By Corinne Mucha
Published by Zest Books
Copyright © 2011
The start of freshman year is the first day of the rest of your life, so you’d better get it right. Oh, life used to be so easy.
There is nothing like starting over to make you second guess who you are and where you fit in.
Annie and Richie are entering the 9th grade. They have gone from the top rung of middle school where life was great and they had everything figured out, down to the bottom rung of high school where it seems all of the rules have changed.
Annie and Richie lost the third person in their triumvirate, Beth, over the summer when she got her first boyfriend and started dressing Goth, smoking, and drinking. So each of them is trying to make new friends, but it isn’t as easy as they would have hoped. Annie stresses about her every move ruining her future and Richie just tries too hard. Throw in the obvious teenage attraction to the opposite sex and this school year is going to throw them for a loop. Fortunately they each make one new friend who seems to pull them, sometimes kicking and screaming, through the horror of freshman year.
The art in this 4 color (black, white, grey, and green) in this graphic novel by Corinne Mucha is nothing special, but she obviously wasn’t looking for exact realism or even exaggerated realism. The awkwardness with which her characters are drawn actually seems to accentuate their awkwardness and uncertainty of their situations and mental states. So while the illustrations aren’t the best I’ve seen they are certainly effective.
Obviously the graphic novel format gives itself over predominantly to dialogue writing and I think that Mucha does a great job nailing not only the speech, but the thoughts of many teens. With that in mind there are obviously way more instances of profanity than I care for. “Freshman” really seems to hit on how catty girls can get, so in that vein the word b*#!% is used way too often. Oddly enough I don’t recall seeing any other foul language used.
This story was a realistic, though slightly softened, look at freshman year in high school that If not for the language I would eagerly recommend. While I’m sure that teens are hearing language like this in school and at home that doesn’t make it right, and the frequency with which it is used in this book seems a bit unnecessary. All in all though, there is no violence, no sex, no drugs, and only brief shots of the reality of smoking and drinking among high school students. So I with just a shade of reluctance recommend this for teens 14 and up who I think will really be able to relate to it.