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A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl's freshman year of college Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all t A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl's freshman year of college Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe. 


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A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl's freshman year of college Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all t A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl's freshman year of college Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe. 

30 review for Fresh

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Fresh is stimulating, awakening, refreshing, provocative and truly realistic approach to the complex college life, struggles of young people who try too hard to discover themselves It’s questioning making decisions freely without being put in labels, shunning by your own social circle! I loved the voice of Elliott, her challenge to find a proper place at the college environment, her search for sexuality by experiencing different things which ended with slut-shaming! The book was genuine, harsh, b Fresh is stimulating, awakening, refreshing, provocative and truly realistic approach to the complex college life, struggles of young people who try too hard to discover themselves It’s questioning making decisions freely without being put in labels, shunning by your own social circle! I loved the voice of Elliott, her challenge to find a proper place at the college environment, her search for sexuality by experiencing different things which ended with slut-shaming! The book was genuine, harsh, bold, never sugar coating the matters young people deal with but there are so many triggering subjects and it was way too much steamy which is totally fine with me but the categorization of this story as young adult may confuse the readers’ minds because there are so many adult problems were questioned and analyzed in this story and sexual awakening was the main subject so it’s better to categorize it as adult fiction. I mostly enjoyed it. It was original, unique introduction to college life with well developed characterization and satisfying LGBTQ representation which earned my four shiny stars! Special thanks to NetGalley and Abrams Kids for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Storiesandcoffee

    I've been searching for a sapphic, coming-of-age story to get lost in, and Fresh was just what I wanted. Elliot McHugh is a hot mess. What she thinks her freshman year will be like is way different than what it actually turns out to be. (She's failing, flailing, and learning the hard way that relationships (both platonic and romantic) aren't as cut and dry as she once believed.) Basically, this entire book represents the lessons we all learned---one way or another---during our freshman year of col I've been searching for a sapphic, coming-of-age story to get lost in, and Fresh was just what I wanted. Elliot McHugh is a hot mess. What she thinks her freshman year will be like is way different than what it actually turns out to be. (She's failing, flailing, and learning the hard way that relationships (both platonic and romantic) aren't as cut and dry as she once believed.) Basically, this entire book represents the lessons we all learned---one way or another---during our freshman year of college, and I found it to be totally relatable. "When you start your freshman year, your slate is clean. Whoever you were in high school, whatever drama you were caught up in---none of that matters. You can reset, if you want to. New school, new friends, new attitudes, new life. You get the chance to choose who you want to be and then you have the opportunity to become that person. It's a moment with weight. It's a moment that demands reflection. But I got so caught up in the newness of it all that I completely forgot to take the time to figure out who the hell I want to be." Things I loved: Margot Wood breaks the fourth wall with Fresh, and it allowed for a unique reading experience, as I felt like Elliot was sitting down and having a conversation with me. I also loved the honesty. There is nothing sugarcoated here. At times, this book is messy, but who doesn't remember a time in their life when things were messy; when life seemed so damn hard. Mostly though, I loved Elliot and Rose. Their relationship from the start of the book to the end was so very sweet. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, hoping they got their happy ending. Things I didn't: Tender Chicken. Every single time this phrase was used, I had a visceral reaction, kind of like when certain people read the word moist. (sorry if you're one of those people and you just had to read that word...but also kind of not sorry because now you understand how I felt every time I read the phrase Tender Chicken.) I also wasn't crazy about all of the footnotes. I kind of stopped reading them after awhile. In case you're wondering, there are 90 total. Definitely check this one out if you're looking for a fresh (no pun intended) YA/NA novel that is sex-positive and diverse. . . . . Trigger warning below may contain spoilers . . . . . TW: Sexual assault, slut-shaming, underage drinking/drug use

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    3.5ish stars. Review to come! CW: sexual assault, cheating, slut shaming

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laynie Rose

    This was a delightfully accurate representation of what it feels like to be a freshman in college. I felt like I was being catapulted back to my freshman year dorm and all the chaos that goes with it. I've been saying for forever that I want more messy sapphic college stories, stories that I feel like represent my own life experience, and this absolutely delivered. The characters were incredibly believable in their mannerisms, it felt like real people I would have known in college. The slowburn This was a delightfully accurate representation of what it feels like to be a freshman in college. I felt like I was being catapulted back to my freshman year dorm and all the chaos that goes with it. I've been saying for forever that I want more messy sapphic college stories, stories that I feel like represent my own life experience, and this absolutely delivered. The characters were incredibly believable in their mannerisms, it felt like real people I would have known in college. The slowburn romance was also excellent, and I loved getting to see all of the mistakes Elliot made and they was she learned and grew from it. This will be an excellent book for high schoolers to get an insight to the college experience, and those of us past our college days to relieve it!

  5. 5 out of 5

    theresa

    Fresh encaptures the messy, confusing and emotional experience that is freshman year of college. It’s full of humour, imperfect characters and an incredible realness. I don’t think I have anything of substance to say in this review other than the book was fine. I enjoyed my time reading it but doubt I’ll ever think of it again (other than when I see chicken tenders on a menu (don’t ask)). There was nothing wrong with it and it’s definitely not a bad book, just not one I vibed with particularly we Fresh encaptures the messy, confusing and emotional experience that is freshman year of college. It’s full of humour, imperfect characters and an incredible realness. I don’t think I have anything of substance to say in this review other than the book was fine. I enjoyed my time reading it but doubt I’ll ever think of it again (other than when I see chicken tenders on a menu (don’t ask)). There was nothing wrong with it and it’s definitely not a bad book, just not one I vibed with particularly well and that’s okay. Fresh is nothing like my own university experience. Not in the slightest. At least in part because I’m a lot more introverted than our main character, Elliot, who’s loud and proud. The narrative style Wood uses works very well with Elliot’s character and easily conveys her personality through humour and breaking the fourth wall; it’s a very casual, chatty kind of style, as if talking to a friend. However, I don’t personally particularly enjoy this style, though I can appreciate how well it works with this story. Once I was more used to the writing style and Elliot’s brash personality, it was easier to sink into the story. I sped through this book in less than 24 hours – it was effortlessly engaging and an easy read. I really appreciated the journey Elliot went on and how unapologetically messy she was. Her character development wasn’t about ‘fixing’ her as a character but allowing her to learn from her mistakes and be more aware of how her choices affect other people. She and all the other characters felt very authentic to me. I really loved the sex positivity in this book. Elliot has a few messy hook ups and talks openly about her sexuality which was so good to see on page. There are discussions of slut-shaming and the stereotype of bi people being promiscuous as well which I really enjoyed. This book wasn’t for me and I’m okay with that (although maybe that’s just my reading slump speaking). I’d still recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, sex positive book about messy, college aged sapphics. I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter *Thank you Amulet Books for an advanced copy. This has not affected my review.*

  6. 4 out of 5

    jenn

    how do i write a review for a book that i loved this much? (warning: it’s probably going to be a very chaotic review.) this book is easily one of the most unique books i’ve read. it’s a college YA with a bi main character, and endearing and hilarious narration!!! elliot mchugh, our narrator (who tends to leave us lots of footnotes (ninety of them!!!), breaks the fourth wall, and is so unforgettable), is a freshman in college, unsure what she wants to do with her life, and is such a realistic cha how do i write a review for a book that i loved this much? (warning: it’s probably going to be a very chaotic review.) this book is easily one of the most unique books i’ve read. it’s a college YA with a bi main character, and endearing and hilarious narration!!! elliot mchugh, our narrator (who tends to leave us lots of footnotes (ninety of them!!!), breaks the fourth wall, and is so unforgettable), is a freshman in college, unsure what she wants to do with her life, and is such a realistic character, even with all of her loud and extroverted tendencies. fresh follows elliot throughout her first year of college, and between wonderful friendships, messy hook-ups, and an array of entertaining antics, it’s a book i won’t ever forget. elliot is such an interesting character to me, because she feels so real and relatable, even if i share very few personality traits with her. it’s rare i form a connection with a character so extroverted and impulsive, and yet throughout the book, she was developed as so much more. the lessons she learned weren’t forced, rather, everything she did was so believable. the bi rep was absolutely amazing, and it was so casual, as it wasn’t any sort of conflict, rather, elliot was attracted to both men and women. reading this book felt like talking to a friend. it wasn’t cheesy or predictable or over the top. elliot was the perfect narrator, and though her mistakes were many, it all felt honest. margot wood truly knew what she was doing and how she was writing this story. it’s authenticity and comfort really spoke to me. it’s hard to capture the feeling of reading this book in a single review. i mean, i read it in under 24 hours. i laughed out loud, i felt emotional, i felt so immersed, i felt like elliot was my best friend. it felt like watching a really good sitcom, not necessarily driven by a central plot, but more the characters and their everyday experiences. from the first page, i was squealing with delight. it felt personal. this book is going to live in my heart for a while. it’s a new favorite, it’s creative, it’s mind blowing, it’s honest. it’s out august 3rd, and i recommend it with my entire soul. content warnings: sexual assault, underage drinking and drug usage

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I adored this book so much it is a refreshing YA/NA coming of age book that I devoured. There was so many highlights of this book especially the footnotes as it adds something a little extra to the book. I really enjoyed how it read partially like a diary as it breaks the 4th wall & there is so much honesty from the mc you feel like you know her. I loved reading about someone so different from myself as it had me laughing out loud so many times, I would definitely recommend this book !

  8. 5 out of 5

    Delaney

    Read my full review on my blog The majority of the ARCs I get approved for are not highly anticipated books for me. They are usually ones that I requested when I was bored and scrolling through NetGalley. But not Fresh. I actively sought out Fresh because I was so excited to hear about it. It is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma set at a college in Boston with a bisexual protagonist. On the surface this book was tailor made for me. It turns out the premise was tailor made for me, the actua Read my full review on my blog The majority of the ARCs I get approved for are not highly anticipated books for me. They are usually ones that I requested when I was bored and scrolling through NetGalley. But not Fresh. I actively sought out Fresh because I was so excited to hear about it. It is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma set at a college in Boston with a bisexual protagonist. On the surface this book was tailor made for me. It turns out the premise was tailor made for me, the actual book was not. I had originally considered rating this higher because I am too nice and hate giving books low ratings. But when I sat down and thought about what I did and didn’t like, I could only come up with one good thing to say, and a whole lot of bad. I’ll get the good thing out of the way out front: it was incredibly readable. While I certainly didn’t enjoy my reading experience, I also didn’t feel like I was slogging through it. Whereas some books I don’t like but decide I need to read to keep my NetGalley ratio up I spend a lot of time going “oh I wish I could just DNF this” I only wished to DNF Fresh about once, closer to the end of the book. It was just super easy to read. I have read other people’s reviews where they say they were pulled in from the first page. I was repelled from the first page. The very first sentence of the book mimics the first sentence of Emma. A classic technique and appropriate for any retelling with lines as memorable as Austen. Unfortunately I was immediately jarred by a simultaneous fourth wall break and dramatic tonal shift into what I would soon become acquainted with as the annoying voice of Elliot McHugh. These are two aspects of the book that definitely go on the bad list. I found Elliot’s voice to be way too immature for a college student. Which is maybe part of the point, but she sounds like a middle schooler. “Tender chicken” was a completely overused joke, even though she has lots of sex she can’t manage to use the proper names for things, and she was over-the-top melodramatic 99% of the time. She reminded me of some middle grade protagonists like Judy Moody or Ramona. And that chaotic melodrama is fine for a ten year old, but I did not appreciate it in an eighteen year old. And I get that Elliot isn’t necessarily supposed to be likeable, but there is a difference between unlikeable and obnoxious. I love a good fourth wall break, it is one of my favorite techniques in writing, it doesn’t matter what the medium is. But I never liked Elliot’s fourth wall breaks. Mostly because they were way too glaring, rather than being a clever slip-in. The footnotes were too frequent and mostly unnecessary, the couple of “choose your own adventure” bits that were added in were both weird and too infrequent to really make it a thing, and when Elliot addressed the reader, I still never felt like she was addressing me personally. I felt like she was addressing some other theoretical reader, but not me. Which brings me to my next issue: I could not relate to one character in this entire book. None of them. I can usually find at least one trait in a main character to relate to but I just...couldn’t. The only thing Elliot cares about is having people like her and having sex (which are like...at the bottom of the list of things I care about right after the fiftieth tell-all book from a Trump administration official and the Facebook posts of people I barely knew in high school), so that is certainly part of the issue. I could maybe relate to Lucy, but she wasn’t developed enough. And to the extent she was a character and not a plot device, she was a pretty basic ingenue. I completely disagreed with Rose’s characterization (and even though I wasn’t a fan of her from the beginning, I called it off completely after she was VAPING! IN THE STAIRWELL! AS AN RA! That is both rude and irresponsible.), so I couldn’t relate to her either. The only characters I even liked were Elliot’s family. Possibly this is a side effect of the fact that they were the only characters that Elliot actually liked. I don’t want to tell anyone they definitely should not read this book. If it sounds like something that you would enjoy, you should give it a try, I know lots of other people have loved it. But I do want to make it clear that it will not be right for everybody. Honestly, I am incredibly disappointed I didn’t find a new favorite. I loved the premise of Fresh, but ultimately I couldn’t enjoy the characters, the voice, or the overall storyline. It was a book that I sadly did not connect to. pre-review Well, this is awkward. I was going to rate it 3 stars until I actually thought about it and realized that I could only come up with two things I liked, and one of those was the concept.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danika at The Lesbrary

    I picked up Fresh when I was in a bit of a reading slump, and in the first few pages, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It definitely has a distinct voice. It’s a first person point of view, and it sure sounds like a college freshman telling you a story–which is exactly what this is. It’s Elliot’s first year of university: how she messed it up, and how she tried to rebuild. She’s a little ridiculous, and she has lots of silly asides, including footnotes. It’s a style that will immediately turn I picked up Fresh when I was in a bit of a reading slump, and in the first few pages, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It definitely has a distinct voice. It’s a first person point of view, and it sure sounds like a college freshman telling you a story–which is exactly what this is. It’s Elliot’s first year of university: how she messed it up, and how she tried to rebuild. She’s a little ridiculous, and she has lots of silly asides, including footnotes. It’s a style that will immediately turn some people off and pull others in. Once I bought in, I loved it, and I ended up reading it in two days–so much for that reading slump. This is loosely inspired by Emma–if Emma was a bisexual girl with ADHD who went to an artsy college but is mainly interested in getting laid. Overall, I thought this was such an absorbing, entertaining read, and I think it’s much-needed for new adult readers. Meanwhile, us older and wiser readers will be shaking our heads fondly at the rollercoaster of college relationships. I definitely never stopped hating the term “tender chicken,” which is used a lot in this book, and really spotlights how not erotic the descriptions of sex are, but I managed to get over that, and I’m grateful for it breaking through my reading slump. If you’re looking for a fun, silly, fast read–or queer new adult about college!–I highly recommend this one. Full review at the Lesbrary.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    So this was a fun NA book. I haven't read NA in a bit, either going with YA or Adult aged books, so reading a book set in college age students was interesting. This book follows Elliot McHugh as she plunges into her freshman year of college. Elliot doesn't quite know what she wants to do with her life, except she knows she wants to definitely live up the college experience. And we get to see her many mistakes she makes on the way as well as meet the wonderful people that join her on that adventu So this was a fun NA book. I haven't read NA in a bit, either going with YA or Adult aged books, so reading a book set in college age students was interesting. This book follows Elliot McHugh as she plunges into her freshman year of college. Elliot doesn't quite know what she wants to do with her life, except she knows she wants to definitely live up the college experience. And we get to see her many mistakes she makes on the way as well as meet the wonderful people that join her on that adventure. The way this story is told is very interesting. It's all in first person depicted directly to the reader from Elliot's perspective as if she is sitting with us and chronicling it in person. Many, many fourth wall breaks occur in the book. And this isn't a brand new storytelling devise but it isn't that commonly used and it kept me hooked well. It really helped you understand Elliot as a character and what motivated her actions. Fresh captured the feeling of being in college very well. It's a cardinal sin to read the author's life into fiction, but it seemed to me there were more than a few direct winks Wood wove into the story of her own college experience- or stories she may have heard. And this successfully made the scenery feel very real and experiences feel lived. The book does a really great job at that. I loved the characters in this book. And they're all so flawed. Elliot is incredibly messy, and she will be the first to admit it. But as I've written in other reviews, messy characters with good intentions are some of my favorite type of characters and I latch right on to them and want to see them grow and succeed and this is exactly that kind of story. The side characters are fantastic too. Lucy and Rose are really nuanced and while maybe not as messy as Elliot, are far from perfect and I just love to see everyone come together. And Micah seems like the exact kind of friend who will infuriate you but you also always want by your side and that lead to fun times reading. My main point of criticism in this book is a common one, it all seems to wrap up incredibly quickly. You can even see what is coming several chapters ahead and then we just wait and wait for everything to resolve, and then it does resolve and the book ends with minimal on page payoff. This criticism will lessen if we get a sequel and I can see how Elliot's life continues from there. I enjoyed this debut by Margot Wood quite a bit, and she did a great job at building a world that resonated to me a college experience. I'm going to look out for future books from her. 4/5

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bookphenomena (Micky)

    3.5 stars rounded up Headlines: Banter central Sex-positive Fun formatting Fresh was a ride of a read in that it was light, fun and full of banter. This hardback was formatted pretty innovatively and the narrative had regular footnotes of sarcasm. Framed around moving into college as a freshman, Elliot drove this story with her experiences of the first year with roommates, dating and sexual experiences. Elliot was bisexual, had ADHD and tended to crash into life at a speed of knots, picking up the pie 3.5 stars rounded up Headlines: Banter central Sex-positive Fun formatting Fresh was a ride of a read in that it was light, fun and full of banter. This hardback was formatted pretty innovatively and the narrative had regular footnotes of sarcasm. Framed around moving into college as a freshman, Elliot drove this story with her experiences of the first year with roommates, dating and sexual experiences. Elliot was bisexual, had ADHD and tended to crash into life at a speed of knots, picking up the pieces afterward. The narrative was part stream of consciousness and inner monologue and part banter with everyone around her. Life through her eyes was definitely witty, sometimes cringey and peppered with questionable decisions. This was an incredibly sex-positive story. There's not a lot that is unsaid in this book, I would say the character connections were less about chemistry and more about navigating new sexual experiences in college. When things didn't exactly go to plan in that department, it was hilarious. There were some serious tones at times but I would say that I never really got deep with Elliot as a character because of the comedic facade but it was an entertaining read. Just like the title, this read was fresh and a contemporary YA story with an emphasis on comedy. Thank you to the publisher and Pride Book Tours for the review copy. Find this review at A Take From Two Cities Blog.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    This book was so messy… in the BEST way possible. It was probably the most accurate new adult, coming of age, freshman college experience I have read to date. Elliot McHugh is the epitome of chaotic bisexual. Going into her freshman year of college, undeclared, loud & extroverted, Elliot breaks the 4th wall and narrates us through her freshman year experience about friendships, an abundance of hookups & the drama that comes with your first year in college. What I loved most about this book was t This book was so messy… in the BEST way possible. It was probably the most accurate new adult, coming of age, freshman college experience I have read to date. Elliot McHugh is the epitome of chaotic bisexual. Going into her freshman year of college, undeclared, loud & extroverted, Elliot breaks the 4th wall and narrates us through her freshman year experience about friendships, an abundance of hookups & the drama that comes with your first year in college. What I loved most about this book was the fact that I was cracking up laughing throughout the entire thing, start to finish. From the innuendos that Elliot made up for the most ridiculous things to the footnotes written throughout each chapter. Elliot is the type of chaos that is so fun to be around, im sad im not her friend. A tiny thing i’m a lil sad about in the book is the damn ending! I finally got what I wanted and then a couple pages later the book just ENDED. 😤 When starting to read this book I was a little skeptical because I don’t usually like this writing style but Margot Wood totally sold me on it. With how fucking hilarious Elliot is & the footnotes she would write, my ADHD brain was like “wow yeah this is how I think”, I was having so much fun with it. I also loved how this book didn’t have a very clear plot, it was more following the day-to-day of the cast of characters. It felt like I was watching a tv series about the perfect (using that very loosely bc they were messy) ensemble of characters. If you’ve read this far, wow… why? lol I can say so much more about this book but my thoughts are jumbled and i’m ranting at this point.

  13. 4 out of 5

    tappkalina

    Absolutely loved it! RTC

  14. 4 out of 5

    Helena

    I got recommended this book by one of my best friends, and tbh I hadn't heard much about this book before I picked it up. It was a fantastic read highlighting the struggles of college and the realness of it. I really enjoyed the characters storylines and I absolutely loved Lucy. I got recommended this book by one of my best friends, and tbh I hadn't heard much about this book before I picked it up. It was a fantastic read highlighting the struggles of college and the realness of it. I really enjoyed the characters storylines and I absolutely loved Lucy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    cossette

    content warnings: drinking, drug use, profanity, sex, and one scene with sexual assault. 3.5 rounded up to a 4, i think?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leah Waters

    I am SO EXCITED to read this book. Margot Wood is a publishing expert, so I bet this book will be really well written and awesome. Anyway, I can't wait! I am SO EXCITED to read this book. Margot Wood is a publishing expert, so I bet this book will be really well written and awesome. Anyway, I can't wait!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Boyd

    as a junior at emerson college this was SPOT ON

  18. 4 out of 5

    Camryn

    Ah. I was really excited about this. I usually try to make myself read at least fifty pages before deciding to give up on a book. But. This. Sigh. So first of all, really petty: It’s weird that her older sister is named Isabelle and the next two have “boy” named like Elliot and Remy! Why don’t the parents have a consistent naming style! (Pls drag me for this but I truly kept questioning) To me this felt very dated, like something I’d pick up in 2013, and it also felt very... young. The voice didn Ah. I was really excited about this. I usually try to make myself read at least fifty pages before deciding to give up on a book. But. This. Sigh. So first of all, really petty: It’s weird that her older sister is named Isabelle and the next two have “boy” named like Elliot and Remy! Why don’t the parents have a consistent naming style! (Pls drag me for this but I truly kept questioning) To me this felt very dated, like something I’d pick up in 2013, and it also felt very... young. The voice didn’t sound like an 18 year old to me at all. The writing felt like fanfic writing i used to write when I was fourteen. Like I don’t know how to articulate, but everything is very obvious and over dramatic — Elliot and her roommate declare themselves best friends as soon as they meet in a very 2014 tumblr way. Then she says “fuck you” to someone who uses her detergent when... why are you freaking out about that? And the upperclassman responds like “freshman, you don’t know anything, I just taught you a lesson” which felt like the author laying on a bad girl/ I hate people persona very very heavily. I may delete this because I’m being really critical but I can’t tell tell if this is just one of the author’s very first pieces of writing or if they wrote this way for a younger audience. I do think the concept is super cool, though!

  19. 4 out of 5

    micah ➳ canonicallychaotic

    ➳ thank you to netgalley and piquebeyond for a free e-arc of fresh in exchange for an honest review. “new school, new friends, new attitudes, new life. you get the chance to choose who you want to be and then you have the opportunity to become that person.” so everyone’s favorite jane austen book is usually pride and prejudice right?? well mine is emma. fresh is an emma retelling. i hear “emma retelling” and i say sign me the fUCK UP. elliot mchugh is a freshman in college with no major declare ➳ thank you to netgalley and piquebeyond for a free e-arc of fresh in exchange for an honest review. “new school, new friends, new attitudes, new life. you get the chance to choose who you want to be and then you have the opportunity to become that person.” so everyone’s favorite jane austen book is usually pride and prejudice right?? well mine is emma. fresh is an emma retelling. i hear “emma retelling” and i say sign me the fUCK UP. elliot mchugh is a freshman in college with no major declared, a roommate that’s immediately become her best friend, and an RA that is out to get her. she’s bi, a disaster, and unafraid to talk to you in the footnotes. we follow her as she learns how to live on her own while also making friends, sexual partners, and maybe a couple mistakes along the way. fresh hits that sweet spot right between YA and NA. like technically, they’re teenagers but technically they’re adults. not high schoolers, but not 20somethings. i wouldn’t say my college experience was anything like elliot’s in fresh, but god did it make me think about college. late nights in the laundry room and the friendships i had with the people i lived with. and then going home for breaks and seeing the worst possible people in target. not a lot of books capture this experience?? i tried to pull some of the ones i own that are in the background of this photo. early college years are so formative—when you learn who you are outside of the world you’ve always been in, and you start deciding who you really want to be. we’re constantly coming of age, and the college coming of age is one we should really explore more. one of the most fun things about retellings is trying to fit pieces together and figure out the plot beforehand. it makes the story that much more interactive and this is already a very interactive story. also there’s a character named micah which took me out most of the time but alas. content warnings: sexual assault, underage drinking and drug use, cheating, slut shaming

  20. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars Fresh , Margot Wood's debut novel, is a fun, sensitive, diverse, sex-positive YA novel about the craziness of freshman year of college. “Hey, hi, hello there. My name is Elliot McHugh, I’m eighteen years old and hail from Cincinnati; I’m a Leo, a (mostly) chaotic-good extrovert, a freshman at Emerson College in Boston, and I have no idea what the hell I am doing right now.” From the very start of this book, you know that Elliot, the main character, isn’t anywhere near as together as sh 4.5 stars Fresh , Margot Wood's debut novel, is a fun, sensitive, diverse, sex-positive YA novel about the craziness of freshman year of college. “Hey, hi, hello there. My name is Elliot McHugh, I’m eighteen years old and hail from Cincinnati; I’m a Leo, a (mostly) chaotic-good extrovert, a freshman at Emerson College in Boston, and I have no idea what the hell I am doing right now.” From the very start of this book, you know that Elliot, the main character, isn’t anywhere near as together as she thinks or hopes she is. But that’s doesn’t stop her from faking it as hard as she can. She doesn’t have any idea what she wants to do with her future, unlike many of her classmates, so she chooses to focus on the good stuff—parties, hooking up, and…hooking up. Of course, it’s only so long before the reality of college comes back around to hit you in the face, and Elliot realizes that relationships (with friends, and those from whom you want more) aren’t what they’re cracked up to be, and partying all the time doesn’t help your GPA much. I thought Fresh was such a fun book that hit home more than a few times for me. I remember freshman year of college and wanting desperately to fit in and make the kinds of friends I’d have forever. I also remember the freedom of not being monitored by anyone and how no one cared if you didn’t do your homework or show up for class—until you realized your grades suffered. Elliot was such a hot mess and I totally rooted for her to get her happy ending. There was so much to love about this book, especially the diversity. I loved everything except the footnotes. I really HATE fiction that uses footnotes because it’s so distracting. (Oh, and the use of the phrase “tender chicken,” which almost made me hurl.) This definitely was a fun, memorable read that reminded me of how far I’ve come! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    Huge thanks to Abrams for the influencer box. My child ate the Cheez-It's before I could utter a word, so there that. FRESH is a raw, realistic approach to one's freshman year in college and accurately portrays the struggles of a woman on the brink of adulthood while she struggles with school work, relationships, and finding her place in the world. The sarcastic narrator will reel you in if this super awesome cover doesn't. What I loved most was Elliot's voice; her narration was both hilarious! S Huge thanks to Abrams for the influencer box. My child ate the Cheez-It's before I could utter a word, so there that. FRESH is a raw, realistic approach to one's freshman year in college and accurately portrays the struggles of a woman on the brink of adulthood while she struggles with school work, relationships, and finding her place in the world. The sarcastic narrator will reel you in if this super awesome cover doesn't. What I loved most was Elliot's voice; her narration was both hilarious! She's such a mess, but she's a good mess. She makes mistakes, but learns from them and that's all we can ask for. Her view on the world gave her character the connection I needed. I'm a sarcastic person, so I related to Elliot on the deepest level. Sex positivity is something I look for in books. As Elliot explores all avenues in relationships, we get someone who isn't afraid to express her sexuality and dismisses those who look at it in a negative light. She knows who she is, and is comfortable with it, but she grows so much as a person throughout this book. She goes from someone flippant about college and relationships to learning what it feels like to have a genuine connection both sexually and emotionally, and finding a mjor she's good at. THere are hilarious footnotes on some of the pages. I know some people will be put-off by them, but I think it made my reading experience that much more fun. OMG, so I'm from Boston so that upped the book to six stars. I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that my dog is also named Bugsy and I nearly screamed when I saw his name mentioned! He's my baby, and I just may send a photo of him so the author, so here's your heads up, Margot! There is a trigger warning at the beginning of the book I have, but I'm not sure where it will be on the finished version. There is an instance of on-page sexual assault. Overall, I enjoyed every second of this book, and I cannot WAIT to see what else the author has in store for us next.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    A DELIGHT! this is a very chaotic, very queer college retelling of emma, and i love it for allowing elliot to be as messy and self-absorbed and ill-behaved as every emma should be. also made me extremely nostalgic for my own Small Liberal Arts School. (and as a former RA i also think making the knightley character her RA was the perfect choice: just enough rationale to be bossy verging on condescending, ya feel?)

  23. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler Some stories get you hooked by the end of the first paragraph and Fresh certainly is one of them. In this book, we follow Elliot McHugh, a spunky, provocative, bisexual, and messy AF protagonist during her freshman year at college. Have you ever heard someone say “I couldn’t quite pin down the voice of the character”? Yeah, reading Fresh was the exact opposite of that experience. Elliot has such a strong voice throughout this narrativ Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler Some stories get you hooked by the end of the first paragraph and Fresh certainly is one of them. In this book, we follow Elliot McHugh, a spunky, provocative, bisexual, and messy AF protagonist during her freshman year at college. Have you ever heard someone say “I couldn’t quite pin down the voice of the character”? Yeah, reading Fresh was the exact opposite of that experience. Elliot has such a strong voice throughout this narrative (including in footnotes that make for hilarious reading moments) that at times, I could anticipate how she would react to situations and I don’t know if that’s something that floats your boat, but I love that—when you know a character so well that you feel like you’re really in their head, that’s when you know it’s great writing. Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    Fresh by Margot Wood was an entirely fun reading experience! Told thought the voice of Elliott McHugh, the story took off into a wild ride through the messy and confusing times of being a college freshman. Through a first person point of view, that included detailed foot notes, lists, and even a choose your own adventure, this coming-of-age story was hilarious as it detailed new experiences, mistakes and mishaps (lots of them), and many other epic fails. This novel was both fun and hilarious, bu Fresh by Margot Wood was an entirely fun reading experience! Told thought the voice of Elliott McHugh, the story took off into a wild ride through the messy and confusing times of being a college freshman. Through a first person point of view, that included detailed foot notes, lists, and even a choose your own adventure, this coming-of-age story was hilarious as it detailed new experiences, mistakes and mishaps (lots of them), and many other epic fails. This novel was both fun and hilarious, but also addressed important themes, and also important lessons learned. Margot Wood kept the story upbeat and uplifting, making this an enjoyable read. Full of heart and warmth, this novel was a fast read that resonated. Enjoyed!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Fresh in exchange for an honest review. I'd describe "Fresh" as what would happen if the protagonist from Dork Diaries grew up and decided to catalogue her transition into adulthood. While the in your face, extremely 4th wall and intentionally quirky writing styles can work in some spaces, it just constantly reminded me of how juvenile the thoughts and actions of our protagonist are. I'm not saying adult books can't be written in this format, but e Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Fresh in exchange for an honest review. I'd describe "Fresh" as what would happen if the protagonist from Dork Diaries grew up and decided to catalogue her transition into adulthood. While the in your face, extremely 4th wall and intentionally quirky writing styles can work in some spaces, it just constantly reminded me of how juvenile the thoughts and actions of our protagonist are. I'm not saying adult books can't be written in this format, but everything about Elliot and her life felt so completely middle grade that I was really put off with the amount of sexual content in this despite the fact that it never actually markets itself as middle grade so that normally shouldn't have been an issue. The end was cute though, okay? I'm a sucker for adorable endings.

  26. 4 out of 5

    lyraand

    "Maggie Lehrman at Abrams has won world English rights at auction to Fresh by Epic Reads founder Margot Wood. The debut novel is a queer coming-of-age story that follows a freshman at Emerson College as she navigates the highs and lows of her first year away from home. Told in first person, and often breaking the fourth wall, Fresh draws inspiration from Jane Austen's Emma, but with a modern edge." "Maggie Lehrman at Abrams has won world English rights at auction to Fresh by Epic Reads founder Margot Wood. The debut novel is a queer coming-of-age story that follows a freshman at Emerson College as she navigates the highs and lows of her first year away from home. Told in first person, and often breaking the fourth wall, Fresh draws inspiration from Jane Austen's Emma, but with a modern edge."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Abby Knudsen

    4.5. Most of the reason for my high rating is for the amazing entertainment value. I ate this book right up and had a great time. It’s SO chaotic and messy and funny and all around super fun. It’s the perfect book to read if you need something light that is easy to read and fast paced. The voice is very, VERY conversational. I admit that I was skeptical at first, but once I got used to it, I grew to really like it and see how fitting it was for the story. There were definitely some cringe little 4.5. Most of the reason for my high rating is for the amazing entertainment value. I ate this book right up and had a great time. It’s SO chaotic and messy and funny and all around super fun. It’s the perfect book to read if you need something light that is easy to read and fast paced. The voice is very, VERY conversational. I admit that I was skeptical at first, but once I got used to it, I grew to really like it and see how fitting it was for the story. There were definitely some cringe little bits in the writing, but I’m willing to look past that. This book is especially interesting to me because if you know where I go to college, you know that this book is as polar opposite as you can get from my college experience bahahaha. So it was fun for me to get a little glimpse into this kind of life. I can’t tell if I’m jealous? I think I am. A little bit. But a huge part of the book is how Elliot learns from her mistakes, and I am very grateful that I never have experienced some of these things.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tanya (Girl Plus Books)

    Fresh was lively, quirky and fun and had me feeling happy that I picked it up and gave it a try. Eighteen-year-old Elliott is a college freshman who has shown up at Emerson College ready to spread her wings and take on the world, or at least her dorm in the Little Building. What ensues is a whole lot of hook-ups, parties, new friends, and new experiences. What doesn’t happen is attention to classes, studying, and an appreciation for her place at the private university. At times Elliott has a sho Fresh was lively, quirky and fun and had me feeling happy that I picked it up and gave it a try. Eighteen-year-old Elliott is a college freshman who has shown up at Emerson College ready to spread her wings and take on the world, or at least her dorm in the Little Building. What ensues is a whole lot of hook-ups, parties, new friends, and new experiences. What doesn’t happen is attention to classes, studying, and an appreciation for her place at the private university. At times Elliott has a shocking lack of self-awareness, which makes her a perfectly flawed narrator, and completely believable as a young woman straddling that no man’s land between teenager and adult. While Fresh was full of razor-sharp humor and laugh out loud dialogue, the sex-positive story also dealt with topics like misogyny, shaming, intimacy, sexual assault, and the ups and downs of friendship. Elliott was often a hot mess – sometimes immature, sometimes downright reckless – but she learns, and she grows, and her journey was well worth the ride. My only complaint (and it’s a minor one) would be the footnotes. There are ninety of them throughout the novel and I think it’s going to be a love-‘em-or-hate-‘em aspect for readers. I found them to be overdone and a distraction, particularly in the digital version. Anyone who remembers Margot Wood from the old Epic Reads Tea Time videos will read this while hearing her voice, seeing her facial expressions, and her wild gestures. This coming of age story is funny and heartfelt and, like me, after reading it you’ll never be able to think about tender chicken again. If you know, you know. :) Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance copy of this book for review. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stacee

    I’ve always liked Margot, so there was no way I was going to skip this book. I really liked Elliot. She’s snarky and really sort of a hot mess, but she means well. I enjoyed her chaotic inner monologue and how accepting she was. Lucy and Micah are delightful friends and the rest of the cast was a good combo of just what we needed to know. Plot wise, it felt sort of all over the place and it really worked to show how unsettled Elliot was at college. It does feel a little meandering at times and i I’ve always liked Margot, so there was no way I was going to skip this book. I really liked Elliot. She’s snarky and really sort of a hot mess, but she means well. I enjoyed her chaotic inner monologue and how accepting she was. Lucy and Micah are delightful friends and the rest of the cast was a good combo of just what we needed to know. Plot wise, it felt sort of all over the place and it really worked to show how unsettled Elliot was at college. It does feel a little meandering at times and it was then that I found it easy to set down for days at a time. Overall, it was a great showing of what college is like with characters who were easy to root for. I can’t wait to see what Margot does next. FYI: on the page sexual assault **Huge thanks to the publisher for providing the arc free of charge**

  30. 4 out of 5

    caro(lee)na

    I ADORED THIS BOOK OMG. i adored everything about it. the characters, how it was written, the story. every single thing. i could relate to Elliot a lot and enjoyed the ADHD representation! yes! we love when a character’s neurodiversity isn’t the main part of the story! also a bunch of queer representation. i didn’t understand the concept of a ‘comfort read’ until i read this book. i need a physical copy asap. i’m gonna reread it a million times.

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