Cover Image: Fresh

Fresh

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Member Reviews

What a rowdy, unforgettable book! I've always been disappointed by the lack of accessible fiction about college students, and Margot Wood's novel Fresh fills that void perfectly. Elliot stumbles through her first year at Emerson with relatable chaos, exploring hookup culture, predatory dudes, and roommate drama. She's a charming, if occasionally annoying, bisexual heroine who teenagers can relate to. I wish this book had existed when I was in high school and I didn't know what to expect of my freshman year of college. 

My only criticisms are with style and format—the footnotes were hard to keep up with while reading a digital ARC, and Elliot's chatty voice could get distracting and make the action drag. The constant fourth-wall breaking felt unnecessary. I'll chalk that up to being an older reader than the target audience of the book.
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Elliot is headed off to her freshman year of college without an academic plan.  Instead, she has a solid social plan- enjoy parties and enjoy romantic entanglements minue the romance.  Everything seems to be going according to plan with the exception of a few niggling interruptions from her RA (Rose) until everything starts crumbling around her. 

I try to think of books from the perspective of the audience the book is intended for and not just my own.  However, I had a difficult time with this book.  Even though Elliot learned some things about herself and about maintaining relationships of both the friendly and romantic bent, I just didn't buy into the story.  The idea that someone, at that age, is determined to sleep with a large number of people under the guise of research seems ridiculous- I couldn't suspend disbelief adequately for this one.  
 
I know there are people out there who will love it, it just wasn't for me.
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FRESH is... well... fresh.

A debut that sits firmly in the mysterious, undefinable, elusive New Adult genre, FRESH is raunchy, funny, unafraid, and exactly Margot Wood if she was a book instead of a human. Having had the pleasure of meeting Margot and being somewhat friends online, my expectations were to read her personality in the form of a book about Elliot and her freshman year at Emerson, and it delivered.

TW: sexual assault, slut-shaming

FRESH breaks the fourth wall, has footnotes and different fonts and Choose Your Own Adventure-esque parts. It has an Elliot Drinking Scale and scenes that randomly go into script mode. It's delightfully funny, but also has a lot of cursing, sex, and poor decision-making that perfectly captures the freshman college experience, down to the fire alarm at 3am that sends all the residents into the snow.

If you ever lived in a college dorm you will find yourself taken back to the horrors of making the concrete cube seem livable, the drama behind literally every door, and the disgusting common room you abandon all hope of using two weeks into the semester. Elliot enters school with an undeclared major, commitment issues, and a desire to just have fun. She's bad at school, has casual one-night stands, and is fiercely and confidently bisexual.

This book is honestly perfect for anyone wanting more college settings, sapphic romance, huge casts of characters, and funny books that aren't funny just because of the tropes involved. Despite the trigger warnings, it's actually a fairly light book that is quickly paced and enjoyable start to finish.

Massive thank you to Netgalley for the e-arc and then to Pique and Abrams Books for the physical arc. All opinions are my own.
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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)s 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. 
What I enjoyed most about this story was how authentic it was. I’m so glad we’re getting more traditionally published books about people in their first college year because it’s an incredibly difficult era of your life. For most, it’s being away from home for the first time, overwhelmed with all the new freedoms and possibilities that come with living on campus and being responsible for yourself in a way you never were before. Wood delivers a refreshingly stimulating narrative here, from mundane tips like not eating junk food all day every day (advice every college freshman ignores initially, trust me) to the harsher truths that just because you have free rein doesn’t mean you don’t have to take responsibility for the shit you mess up - there are a lot of life and college lessons to be found for readers. 
Elliot is by no means a perfect character. She’s flawed, she makes mistakes and most of the time, she’s still trying to figure herself out – from her undeclared major to her difficulty with intimacy, Elliot has a lot on her plate. But instead of shying away from that, Wood buckles down and offers up a character that’s genuine and that you feel for, even when she’s being immature or downright reckless (we’ve all been there) and you can’t help but root for Elliot to find her way through it all. 
On top of great characters, you also have a sex-positive story that tackles misogyny, friendship and first heartbreaks, as well as a seamlessly interwoven enemies-to-lovers romance that doesn’t take center stage but makes you bite your knuckles to the very end as you wait to see whether they will find their way to each other or not. Overall, though, this is a story about figuring yourself out in your first year of college and I recommend this to everyone who’s nervous to start that experience.
A laugh-out-loud and vulnerable coming-of-age story detailing the messy life of a college freshman, Fresh is perfect for fans of The Exact Opposite of Okay and Sex Education!
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People clamoring for YA set in college have found their book! This felt so much like college, the weirdness, confusion, the wonder of being on your own for the first time. It’s also hilarious and you will find yourself rooting for Elliot through all of her disastrous plans and schemes.
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This sex positive story was very funny and very sexy!! I loved the humor in the story as it was just what I needed to read this week.  I loved the setting and the main character.  This is a story for a new generation of readers.  I was turning pages faster than ever wanting to know what was going to happen but also not wanting it to end!
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THIS WAS SO FREAKING GOOD! 
I saw this and on a whim I requested it and I’m so glad I did. Perfect coming of age story that tackled important topics. 10/10 recommend.
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Thank you to NetGalley and abrams books for a review copy of Fresh! What  re-fresh-ing read (🥁)

What I most loved about this book are the footnotes, sarcastic writing, and the overall realness of the characters! I feel like a lot of the time when we read about college aged characters they don’t feel real ie going to parties, drinking, figuring yourself out etc. I liked that Elliot didn’t know what she wanted to major in. The “project tender chicken” had me cracking up! I could relate a lot to her figuring herself out: relationship wise and major wise. Also the footnotes! I know I saw some people finding them distracting but I loved it! They made me laugh so hard! 

I will absolutely be picking up anything else Margot wood writes!
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So. Much. Fun. This is an Emma retelling , featuring a bisexual main character, which isn't super common in YA right now. This is for mature teens--it does dance on the edge of "New Adult" and YA. I couldn't put it down and I had to stop reading it in bed at night because I woke up my husband laughing so hard. It does feature footnotes, which some readers may find off-putting, especially in a digital format. It's provocative and sex-positive. Sex is discussed very frankly. The ending was a bit rushed and felt a little unrealistic and unbelievable, but it's also about college freshmen and they make impulsive decisions at the last minute all the time. They may not find it as far-fetched as I did.
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Fresh is a coming of age novel about a girl who starts freshman year of college, navigating new friends, sex, and declaring a major. Elliot McHugh is sad to be moving away from her family, but excited for all the experiences that starting college at Emerson will bring. She's not quite sure what she wants to do in life or what she should major in, but she knows she wants to have a good time. Quickly making friends with her roommate Lucy and battling her RA Rose, Elliot dives headfirst into college life, but she also might might hiding away from her feelings and her behaviour towards other people.

Told in first person narration with footnotes that won't be to everyone's taste,  Fresh is a book about the mistakes people make and the lessons they learn when they go to college/university. I quickly got into the footnotes, which gave a fun tone even if the meta element (she was self-consciously writing a book) didn't quite make sense: there was no clear reason Elliot was writing a book. The narrative follows Elliot through her freshman year, mostly focusing on her making friends, having sex, and realising she actually has to work for her grades. As a character, Elliot is fun and often good-hearted, but has a tendency towards thinking of herself first and not thinking about other people or the consequences of things.

Elliot's sexuality isn't a huge deal in itself—she's attracted to and has sex with men and women in the book—but it's also shown to be important as she owns her sexuality, even if she doesn't seem to like labelling it. In general, the non-straight characters in the novel aren't really shown to engage with their own identities and wider community (Elliot does make a close friend who is gay), possibly because Emerson is depicted as somewhere very liberal and accepting. There's perhaps a comparison to be drawn with the way Elliot is presented as being very privileged in terms of money and not appreciating the fact she didn't have to fight to come to college, and the way that being gay or bi doesn't seem to have consequences beyond who exactly the characters want to have sex or being in a relationship with.

Though it seems to be marketed as young adult fiction, Fresh feels like it is at the upper end of that age group and possibly more enjoyable for people who are actually at or have been to college. The book's approach towards sex is very much around sex positivity, but less in a preachy or informative way than just showing characters having different experiences and navigating relationships (and not-relationships). Despite being mostly a comedy, it does feature sexual assault, which is passed over quite quickly. 

It is also apparently a loose retelling of Emma, but I had no idea throughout and only found out afterwards. That does explain why Elliot does spend some time trying to find her friend a boyfriend (and finds her one who turns out to be awful). It does somehow kinda have the vibe of a very-loosely-based-in-canon college AU of something, so maybe that's how the Emma element comes in more broadly.

For a book that's mostly a fairly light read about starting college and becoming more of an adult, there's quite a lot that could be said about it as it does deal with a lot of topics that can be discussed in a lot of depth. Generally, I found it a gripping, fun book, depicting the highs, lows, and varied experiences of starting college. I enjoyed reading it, though looking back there's elements I wish were developed more.
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The author describes the book as a raunch-com--I cannot stress enough how accurate that is. With a strong and snarky voice and compelling, loveable characters, Fresh by Margot Wood grabs the reader's attention immediately. Following Elliot through the ups and downs of college life was extremely entertaining. 

I would recommend this to readers who enjoy a fast-paced and creative narrative but must also be comfortable with sexual and explicit content.
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Fresh was such a fun and relatable story. It was super chaotic but in the best way possible. I enjoyed every second of it and I could honestly read another 300 pages about these characters!

In Fresh we follow our main character Elliot as she navigates her freshman year of college. Through a very unique writing style that includes footnotes and addressing the reader directly, Elliot tells us all about her life. The good, the bad and the ugly…she doesn’t hold anything back. The author did a wonderful job showing what a first-year college student goes through. Things like being away from home for the first time, roommates, making new friends, declaring a major, discovering your sexuality and finding love were all discussed. I wish this book was around when I went off to college!

This book has a wonderful set of side characters. Many are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, including Elliot! I particularly loved Lucy and Rose! Yes, they both had their moments, but for the most part, they were so supportive and nonjudgmental toward Elliot!

I absolutely loved the slow burn romance! I was nervous it wasn’t going to happen because it took so long for the two characters to share their feelings. When it did though, I was smiling from ear to ear!

Overall, I really enjoyed Fresh! I can’t wait to have a finished copy on my shelves. I’m definitely looking forward to future books from Margot Wood!
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I really enjoyed Fresh! There are so few books detailing the freshman-college experience, and I think this does it extraordinarily well. College is all about figuring yourself out and you shouldn't be expected to have your shit together your first year, and I think this has a great message for incoming freshmen! While I personally didn't relate to Elliott (I am MUCH more of a Lucy in this situation), I enjoyed the perspective this brought.

Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Margot Wood. I've followed her career for many years - from when she was at Epic Reads to now. I've always enjoyed her quirky writing style and humor, so I was fairly certain I would enjoy this too. While I can definitely see how it wouldn't be for everyone, I loved how this never sugar-coated the harsh realities of being alone by yourself for the first time and having to make your own decisions, etc.

This is definitely an instance where there needs to be a middle ground between YA and Adult. Fresh deals with heavy, adult issues that may not be ideal for those on the younger-end of the spectrum. While I didn't (and don't think I would've) have an issue with it, I can see how some topics can be triggering .

The romance is super sweet and I absolutely adored the build up. There was so much tension between the love interest and the main character that continued to build throughout the entire story. While I wish that we had a little bit more time with them as a couple, I loved the way that it was developed and how the realization got Elliott out of her own head. 

I also had quite a bit of issue with the formatting - A large part of this book (and what I think makes it so effective) is that it's partially told in footnotes. The footnotes on this e-arc are absolutely atrocious and made the reading experience quite frustrating.

In all, this is a great debut and I highly recommend checking it out! I read over 50% in a day because I just couldn't put it down! :)
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For me, sadly, this book was just very meh. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. I didn’t really like much about it but I didn’t dislike it either. I just didn’t think it did anything really new or exciting. The writing was fast paced and voicey but I didn’t really care much for the main character and all the side characters seemed pretty cliche and two-dimensional, popping in and out of the story randomly when there needed to be more drama. 

Beyond Elliot’s first year of college and her goal to have great sex, there isn’t much of a plot or structure to this novel. I personally would’ve liked a little bit more to be going on in this book. A b-plot of some sort. (I think Lucy, Elliot’s best friend and roommate, and Elliot’s quest to find her a boyfriend was maybe supposed to be the b-plot but it didn’t really play a very big part and there wasn’t enough interaction and development between the two of them and with this storyline for it to be very compelling, in my opinion.) This novel was really just a character study of Elliot and her first year of college. So if that’s your kind of thing and you don’t mind very little plot, I think you’ll enjoy it, I just personally didn’t find anything super compelling or interesting about the book. 

There were some interesting themes the author tried to explore but mostly they just popped up here and there in the later half of the novel and nothing much ever came of them. Elliot clearly has intimacy issues but the whole thing is glossed over.  Her entire goal in the beginning of the novel is to have great sex so she embarks on a journey of casual flings. Without spoiling things, I’ll just say I don’t think the author spent enough time developing this storyline and showing Elliot’s complicated feelings with sex and intimacy, it never really went past the surface level.

There’s also the fact that Elliot never does the emotional work for herself. She only figures things out when someone else points them out to her. Instead of the narrative ever attempting to dig deep into Elliot and her problems and the story’s themes, we just get Elliot spewing her feelings to every other character in the book and them telling her how to fix things or pointing out how she actually feels about things because she’s in denial of her feelings. Because of the lack of development with her and the way most the novel was all telling and no showing, it made it hard to connect with her. She never felt like a fully realized character and ended up being pretty flat, in my opinion.

Similarly, there are only a handful of scenes with Rose, the love interest, which was disappointing because I do think it was the novels strongest aspect despite some of the scenes being overly ridiculous. Instead of getting any sort of real development between Elliot and Rose and getting to know Rose, we just get more info-dump-like dialogue where she spells everything out after she’s already supposedly grown and changed.

Lastly, honestly this was going to be a 3 star review until the end. Which is maybe unfair but the ending was so dramatic and just completely unearned. I love a good dramatic, cheesy happy ending, but there wasn’t enough build up to it to make it feel anything but ridiculous and cringey. I had hoped that the end would be cute enough to make me feel like it was worth reading the book but, like most other things, I just found it underwhelming.

End on a positive note with my likes:
Sex positivity
LGBTQIAP+ rep 
Overall it was a fast paced, easy read. 

Overall, I found Fresh to be a fun, fast read with not a lot of plot and little substance. However, I still would recommend it. I think if I were still 18-20, I would’ve enjoyed this one a little more. But if you’re looking for just a fun, easy read and this sounds interesting to you and especially if you’re a more character driven reader who loves dramatic characters, you’d probably enjoy this one more than I did.
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Unfortunately I could not finish this book and put it down at 12%. 12% sounds like too early to put a book down, I know, but I did flip through the book till the end to see if it got any better but I don't think I'll enjoy any part of it. The writing just did not work for me personally.
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First off - I adore this cover art!! The colors are gorgeous and the design is so interesting with the cup and the title rotated!

Anyway, getting into what I thought of the book: I enjoyed it! I would describe it as: the movie Clueless (which was inspired by Jane Austen's novel, Emma), but set in college and with way more sex-positivity and chaotic energy. The protagonist, Elliot, has such a unique and strong voice that comes through with her first-person narration. She talks about her family, her friends, her experiences, and her views on everything and anything with practically no filter, and it's very refreshing! (And relatable! Almost stream of consciousness here.)

This book focused a lot on various experiences and issues that college students (especially freshman) encounter: struggling in classes, dealing with roommates and neighbors and RAs, discovering who they are as a person, parties, relationships, hookups, etc. This book features characters of the LGBTQ+ community. Our protagonist is bisexual and there are some very real discussions on sexuality and intimacy and other important topics that I don't really see highlighted in many YA books!! I'm so glad that this book exists and had such fun reading it.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book via NetGalley for me to read!
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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!
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What a fun, entertaining book. I really enjoyed this read! Its fresh (pun intended), funny, relatable, full of heart and had me hooked from the very beginning!

Author Margot Wood is an excellent writer, and I found that the first person POV, diary entry, fourth wall breaking structure was executed very well, and the story flowed smoothly. It provided for an easy read, but it was engaging and entertaining at the same time. All of the characters were complex and three dimensional. Wood gave them such believable and impactful personalities, it truly does feel like you are experiencing your first year as a college freshman along side them. I especially appreciated the realistic dynamic between dormmates, Elliot and Lucy. For me, their friendship was really the strong part of this novel, and I enjoyed watching them go through the struggles and highs of not only freshman year, but a new friendship as well. I do wish we had gotten to know the character of Sascha a bit more. She seemed to be a part of a lot of important moments for Elliot and Lucy, and seemed integral to their friend group, but I didn't feel like we were given enough time to explore or even get to know her character. But truly, its just a minor blip in an extremely strong group of characters. 

One thing I also loved about this book is that it's the college Freshman experience from the female POV. So many times we see the male POV where they just want to party and get laid, finally its time to see that women are looking forward to partying and getting laid just as much as the guys. I enjoyed the role reversal, and enjoyed that these characters and their quest for love and sex was given some dimension and substance. 

I would recommend this book to fellow readers who are looking for an easy, and enthralling read filled with great characters coming of age and learning the ways of the mind, heart, and body. Thank you to Abrams Kids, Amulet Books and NetGalley for giving me an advanced copy!
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Looking for a fantastically feisty, foul-mouthed, flirtatious, and funny modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Emma? Then look no further that Fresh by @margotmwood Coming August 3rd!!!! Make sure you pre-order this gorgeous gem of a YA/Adult (what do we even call those awkward college years of self discovery?)book now! Do you see that cover??? That is what this naked (no dust jacket) book looks like! All that beauty is printed right on the hard case of the book!

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More about Fresh:

-I could not put this book down! It was the amazing, Queer, sex positive tale that I needed in my life.

-This book specifically takes place at Emerson college, but easily could have taken place at any small liberal arts college. I found so many things in this book completely relatable and nostalgic in the best ways.

- This book was 🔥🐓🔥🐓🔥🐓 If you are completely confused about what a chicken has to do with hot sexiness, then you will have to read the book.

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Synopsis from the publisher: 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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Thank you to @abramsbooks @piquebeyond and @netgalley for the gifted ARC in exchange for an honest review. TW for sexual assault, slut shaming, and drug/alcohol use.
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Fresh was not what I expected.
As many reviewers have already stated, this book has a glaring tone/voice vs. intended audience/content issue. Fresh is mostly about 18-21 year olds at college, doing explicitly sexy things, swearing a whole bunch and generally being arseholes. This agressively contrasts Elliot's narration of her own story as she sounds like a literal 12 year old. Elliot's hyperactive, juvenile voice is jarring against the very adult themes of the book. Combine this with the extensive chatty footnotes and we have ourselves an insufferable protagonist.
The messages of sex positivity are so heavy handed that the book starts to read like a teen advice column written by a sexual health nurse. Elliot likes to play 'big sister' to her college friends (particularly Lucy) and it just feels like a poorly disguised way of feeding us the same overtly sex positive messages. All that being said, consent, safe sex practices, STI awareness and clear communication with sexual partners are (in my opinion) not discussed nearly enough in this book. If you're going to bang on about sex positivity (pun intended), these topics need to be explored further.
I'm suprised to hear that Fresh is being marketed as an Emma retelling. The only parallels I can draw between them are: our main character is kind of a dick, she befriends an 'inexperienced' girl and 'teaches' her some shit and Rose's last name is Knightley. In any case, the inspiration taken from Emma is very surface level, and leaves out so much of what makes Emma so iconic.
In conclusion, I am the EXACT target audience for this book and I thought it was bad.
Please look up trigger warnings before reading this book. It is marketed as YA and may have a younger-sounding narrator, but it explores themes such as sexual assault on page.
Thank you so much to Amulet Books for this e-arc.
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