Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison | Review + Blog Tour

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 12, 2018 << out now!
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
My rating:

Getting in is just the beginning.

Phoebe can’t wait to get to college. On her own, discovering new things, no curfew…she’ll be free. And she’ll be totally different: cooler, prettier, smarter…the perfect potential girlfriend. Convenient: the only person from her high school also going to York is her longtime crush, Luke.

Luke didn’t set out to redefine himself, but as soon as he arrives on campus, he finds himself dumping his long-term long-distance girlfriend. And the changes don’t stop there. In fact, being on a soccer team is the only thing that stays the same.

Just when things start looking up (and Phoebe and Luke start hooking up), drama looms on the horizon. Rumors swirl about the Wall of Shame, a secret text chain run by Luke’s soccer team, filled with compromising photos of girls. As the women on campus determine to expose the team and shut down the account, Luke and Phoebe find themselves grappling with confusing feelings and wondering how they’ll ever make it through freshman year.

Mr. Tom Ellen and Ms. Lucy Ivison's novel, Freshmen, follows Phoebe and Luke during their first semester of college, stopping at nothing to deliver the drama, the humor, and the trying-to-be-adults-but-failing-miserably angst. Reading it was a rollercoaster of sympathy, frustration, and reminiscence. Freshmen was a fun read that I enjoyed overall.

On the cover of Freshmen Mr. Ellen and Ms. Ivison's novel, there is the blurb "College is fun. Love is complicated," and this novel does well to iterate this piece of wisdom. From beginning to end—and especially toward the end—Phoebe and Luke are catapulted into the "fun" (quote, unquote) of college. They struggle to cope with the challenges of living away from their family and old friends; meeting new people and making new friends; balancing school with their social life; and figuring out as gracefully as possible who they are and how they want to be seen. There were many times, while reading, when I was rolling my eyes at the two of them or wanting to reach in and shake them for their poor decisions. But then there were many other times when I laughed with them or wanted to pull them into a hug.

For instance, Luke, who opens up the story, was a character I had difficulty getting on board with. I was so frustrated by his back-and-forth between his ex-girlfriend and Phoebe as well as his submissiveness toward the inappropriate behavior of his soccer teammates. Throughout the novel, I saw him make decisions and then bail on those obligations; acknowledge the best course of action but not actually do it. I was coming to a point where I was going to dismiss him as a flat, unsympathetic character, YET. Yet. I couldn't hold these flaws against him. He came as a freshmen who had just gotten out of a three-year relationship (i.e., a relationship that defined his high school career) and was now forced to figure out who he was as his own, not as someone's boyfriend. Relationship or no, college challenges people's identity of their selves. It is the four years after high school that forces people to see and acknowledge their uglier parts, and Luke had the misfortune to experience that self-identification crisis tenfold with his recent break-up. In hindsight, his string of blunders (and, believe me, it was a long string) was a mark of his sincere effort to do good and be his best. He was a character—a human—I learned to love and respect.

Phoebe was less of a difficult character to love but difficult nonetheless. My frustrations with her were equal to the number of times she acted naive or emotional, and there were a few times. From nearly hooking up with a jerk to forgetting about her friends, I looked at her and wondered whether I would yell at her or cry with her. In the end, I decided I'd do both. I sympathized with her; I saw myself in her. She had this idealistic view of college until it proved to be delusional. She had a sureness in herself until others threatened her confidence. Reading about her, I reflected on my own mistakes, the times when I acted naively or let my emotions get ahead of me, and I am so proud of how gracefully Phoebe came out of her struggles. Reaching the end was scary because she and Luke were facing drama after drama after drama, and I didn't think Luke was going to right everything, so I hoped hoped hoped that Phoebe would. She did, and I love her all the more for it.

The authenticity that Freshmen poses on the college experience is not to be missed. It is both profound and entertaining as it weaves discussions of self-identity, memory, and growing up with humor and wit. I recommend this book to individuals about to enter college, are in college, have recently completed college, or are in general need of a pick-me-up. Freshmen will remind you that, no matter how many mistakes and failures you've made, really, you are doing just fine and, honestly, take your time. You'll get there one day.

About the Authors
Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison met at the end of high school and quickly became sweethearts. Though they broke up in college, they remain best friends. Lucy is a librarian at a girls’ school in central London, where she gets most of her inspiration. Tom is a journalist and has written for Time Out, Vice, ESPN, Glamour, and many other publications.

Their first book, A Totally Awkward Love Story, was partially inspired by their own high school relationship, with Tom writing Sam’s chapters and Lucy writing Hannah’s. Freshmen is their second novel together. Follow them on Twitter at @lucyivison.

Check out these awesome Instagramers and Bloggers for Freshmen's Blog Tour!
6/11 @novelknight
6/12 @lifeinlit
6/13 @meliyoutuber
6/14 @zachsbooks
6/15 @knoxdiver 
6/18 @mmfbooks
6/19 @awaytogreatread
6/20 @elliesinfinitebooks
6/21 @desertbibliophile
6/22 @toallthenerdygirls
6/23 @butthisbook
**6/24 @undeniablyromantic**
6/25 @librarycutie
6/26 @readwithmikee
6/27 @andye.readingteen
6/28 @bookcrushin

6/11 Novel Knight Book Reviews
6/12 Tales of the Ravenous Reader
6/13 Novel Novice
6/14 Selina Falcon
6/15 Mary Had A Little Book Blog
6/18: The Book Nut
6/19: Here's to Happy Endings
6/20 Ellie's Infinite Books
6/21: The Desert Bibliophile
6/22: Jessabella Reads
6/23: YA Books Central
**6/24: Undeniably Book Nerdy**
6/25: Dana Square
6/26: Kid Lit Exchange
6/27: The Book Prophet
6/28: Library Cutie
6/29: Bookcrushin

Happy reading,

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