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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 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

352 pages, Hardcover

First published August 3, 2021

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About the author

Margot Wood

1 book273 followers
Margot Wood is the founder of Epic Reads and has worked in marketing for more than a decade at publishing houses both big and small. Born and raised in Cincinnati, and a graduate of Emerson College, Wood now lives in Portland, Oregon and works in comic book publishing.

You can find her online at margotwood.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 595 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
May 21, 2022
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.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.2k followers
December 30, 2021
I've followed Margot online for years and really enjoyed her content so I expected to love this, but I am really bummed to say that this one didn't quite work out for me the way that I was hoping it would. While I do appreciate that this book exists and I do think that a lot of people would still really love it, I just was never really able to connect to our main character, Elliot. Something about her inner monologue just rubbed me the wrong way and I was never able to fully invest in the story because of it. With all that being said, I do think that if you're looking for a light hearted, queer coming of age story this could definitely still be the book for you!! It just wasn't quite the perfect book for me. Womp :(

CW: sexual assault, cheating, slut shaming
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 5 books243 followers
August 8, 2021
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
Profile Image for Laynie Rose.
81 reviews790 followers
August 22, 2021
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!
Profile Image for theresa.
293 reviews4,309 followers
August 20, 2021
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.*
Profile Image for jenn.
175 reviews80 followers
July 15, 2021
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
Profile Image for Delaney.
325 reviews22 followers
August 4, 2021
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.


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.
Profile Image for Emily.
238 reviews759 followers
September 1, 2021
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 !
Profile Image for LM.
86 reviews112 followers
October 21, 2021
Edit 20.10.2021:

I sent Margot Wood, the author of the book, an email about this and she apologized and promised to edit or cut the line in future printings.

She said her intention wasn't to invalidate self-diagnosed people, but to call out the people who use mental illnesses like they're adjectives (e.g. "I'm a little OCD" or "She's so bipolar"). However, she recognized that this didn't come across clearly and apologized.

She also explained this here.

Now I finally feel comfortable giving "Fresh" a five star rating, because aside from that, I really loved it! It's a super funny, diverse and emotional new adult Emma retelling, and I highly recommend it!

Orginal review:

CN: vomit, sex, ableism, anti-self-diagnosis, sexual assault, alcohol, bimisia, slut-shaming, fatmisia

I loved this book. I really did. It was funny, it was diverse, it was the perfect new adult book. It made me laugh and it even made me cry. So why don't I give 5 stars?

Because of this:

"I have ADHD, and not in the casual, problematic way people like to self-diagnose."

No. Just no. Self-diagnosis is valid, and for a lot of (especially marginalized) people it's the only way to get a diagnosis at all.

To quote @livedexperiencecounsellor on Instagram:
"Self-diagnosis is not seeing something on the internet and diagnosing yourself because you can relate.⁣ Self-diagnosis is knowing you’re different and spending countless months and years researching, learning and doubting before even making a decision.⁣ If you are against self-diagnosing then it means you believe neurodiverse people need permission from neurotypical people to talk about their own lived experience and identity.⁣ That’s called ableism.⁣"

Shaming people for not being able to get a professional diagnosis is not okay. This comment was just hurtful and unnecessary, and it's the reason I don't recommend this book even though I loved almost everything else about it.
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
522 reviews1,284 followers
July 31, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Jamie.
169 reviews53 followers
August 23, 2021
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
Profile Image for micah ➳ canonicallychaotic.
161 reviews208 followers
July 27, 2021
➳ 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
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,415 reviews385 followers
September 9, 2021
3.5 stars rounded up

Banter central
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.
Profile Image for Valerie.
28 reviews34 followers
August 4, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Sam.
149 reviews1 follower
October 11, 2021
oh my god this was insufferable

I am just gonna be honest and say this was really really bad. The writing was childish and awful and there were several, several points where I just wanted to put down the book and stop reading and try not to think about it. But I put this book on hold at my library, because I thought it'd be good, so I wanted to finish it. And it wasn't even "so bad it's good." It was just bad.

Firstly I really did not like Elliot. She'd probably describe herself as chaotic good but I just thought she was dearly annoying and all the footnotes, just god please be quiet. Didn't like her attitude or the way she did things or anything. Literally nothing in the book was realistic. You're telling me that your first day of college, you know everyone on your floor, assemble a cast of quirky characters, and pick a fight with someone in the laundry room? She's a freshman, no way in hell she's doing all of that. Plus, there's a huge party scene right away and everyone's making out or whatever and at the end of the chapter she just drops the fact that she's hooking up with some random girl? Literally wtf. Don't get me started on t*nder ch*cken because it kept getting repeated and was not funny at all.

That's another thing- all the reviews said this was funny but there was literally nothing funny about it sorry! There was the token gay friend who literally said "Yaaass queen" to Elliot (I could not believe that part), the whole bit about Lucy eating clean and working out with Elliot going HUHH??? FITNESS?? WHAT THAT??? was just so tired. Just not comedic at all.

Predictable as well- There was no part in which I was surprised by the story- you can guess the ending pretty easily.

If the book was trying to be realistic, it failed. No college scene is like this and it's setting people up for failure if they think this is what's gonna happen. I feel bad for high schoolers reading this and getting excited. You don't meet hot guys outside during a snowstorm and then immediately go on a date. And the whole trying to have sex with everyone on your floor is just so weird... And if it's trying to be fantastical and kind of a parody of college, it's just bad writing. So neither option is good.

I was nervous about this book because it's listed as Young Adult, but I figured it'd still be good. Now, I'm wondering if all the books I read in middle school/high school were as badly written and not thought out.

I get the feeling that the author really really wants this to be a movie. Or maybe she was trying to write a screenplay.

I legitimately have absolutely no clue how this book has a 4.1 rating (at the time of writing). The fact that it has a higher rating than some of my favorite books this year, books that were clever, funny, well-written, and actually had a good plot ("We Are Watching Eliza Bright," "The Very Nice Box," "A Touch of Jen," and "The Plot") is mind-boggling. I truly have no clue what happened there. Please, please read one of those books instead of this one.

Probably the longest review I've ever written and it's all over the place but that's because I had a lot of thoughts. The Art Of Racing In The Rain, you are saved. This is the officially my least favorite book. I ended up hate-reading it just because I needed to get through to the next book. I started it this morning and I already feel better; like my head is cleared from the insane ramblings of Elliot McHugh.

I feel bad for the author but I'm sorry I had to be honest
Profile Image for Janna.
310 reviews267 followers
October 17, 2021
I'm a uni student so I was pretty excited about this novel.

I had read amazing reviews about it. Queer representation and a uni setting sounded like a dream come true.

Unfortunately, I was severely disappointed by "Fresh".

The book literally starts with Elliot introducing herself to the reader like "Hey, Hi, Hello there. My name is Elliot McHugh, I'm eighteen years old (..); I'm a Leo, a (mostly) chaotic-good extrovert, a freshman at Emerson College in Boston (...)"

And that's exactly how the book feels: immature. It often reads like a middle grade novel while also constantly trying to break the fourth wall which was honestly just cringey. There are literal footnotes in the text and there are SO many of them, contionusly making me lose concentration.

Elliot is a childish character whose one main trait is to come up with a dozen names for "vagina". There's so many discussions about sex (which is good!) but it's done in such an annoying way. Virginity is a central feature which unfortunately isn't criticized as a social contruct.

Though I am glad that people on the asexual spectrum were at least acknowledged.

Elliot is part of the upper middle class and it shows. She doesn't have to worry about money at all while her fellow students struggle with paying for uni, she doesn't really give a shit about anything. Maybe that's relatable or realistic for some, but to me it made her unlikeable.

It's not my kind of fun to read about a privileged adult who acts like an ass to people just to realise that she maybe - yes - is privileged. Wow.

One of her friends, Micah, uses he/they pronouns, but people only use he to refer to them. Unfortunately, he also falls into the gay stereotype of being a gossip.

At last, the sapphic rivals to lovers romance was interesting, but not interesting enough to make me like this novel.

content warnings: slutshaming, cheating, sexual assault

bookish links: instagram / tiktok / twitter
Profile Image for Bicho da Galáxia.
157 reviews201 followers
December 7, 2022

Um YA universitário que nos apresenta Elliot McHugh, uma jovem adulta prestes a embarcar no seu primeiro ano da faculdade mas sem qualquer noção do que quer fazer ou ser.

Porque devem ler este livro?
É divertidíssimo. É leve, sex-friendly sem ser vulgar e a forma como é apresentada a narrativa é uma prosa quase como um diário em conversa com notas de rodapé que adicionam mais uma gargalhada ou outra à história.
Uma leitura fluída, com romance de desenvolvimento lento que é perfeito e tem um humor cinco estrelas. Não vou conseguir parar de referir o humor deste livro e o facto de ser tão divertido.
A Elliot é um desastre em pessoa, está a viver novas experiências, a descobrir-se e a cometer erros que lhe irão mostrar um caminho mais nítido para o futuro.

Fazem falta livros deste género, onde o YA mais escolar é passado numa fase para além da escola secundária e que simplesmente é construído para nos fazer passar um bom bocado a sorrir e a ver personagens cativantes a crescer e a aprender como navegar na vida. Com representatividade LGBTQIA+ tanto na nossa protagonista, bissexual, como em personagens secundárias.

Um excelente livro para curar ressacas literárias e que fez da Margot Wood uma autora a acompanhar de perto.
Profile Image for Helena (helenareadsxx).
192 reviews173 followers
September 3, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
September 5, 2021
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/.
Profile Image for Jazmin Castro.
367 reviews180 followers
March 29, 2022
“If you insist on labeling me, my sexual orientation is horny.”

TW: acoso sexual, slut-shaming

Fresh es una historia muy "fresca" (jeje) sobre lo que es afrontar una nueva etapa en la vida para la que nadie está realmente preparado: ser adulto. Si bien en Estados Unidos las cosas son muy distintas porque ya a los 18 hay quienes se van a vivir solos (Lationamerica could never, o bueno almost never), pero eso no quita que alguna vez nos hayamos sentido perdidos al pasar a esa etapa de nuestras vidas donde todo depende de ti mismo, porque ya no hay nadie tomando las decisiones por ti. Y siento que eso es algo que Fresh retrata muy bien.

Btw, el libro es new adult, no diría que es juvenil (lo recomiendo de 16 para arriba).

En esta historia, nos encontramos con personajes muy diversos, no solamente por sus orientaciones sexuales, sino también de dónde vienen, sus tipos de familia, sus deseos y formas de ver la vida. Me sentí muy identificada con Lucy, la mejor amiga de la protagonista, porque siento que al empezar la universidad yo era muy similar a ella, y también conocí a gente muy bella que me ayudaron a salir de mi zona de confort aún cuando me aterraba hacerlo. Pero Elliot (la protagonista) también se me hizo muy especial, a su manera siento que retrata muy bien todos los sentimientos que mencioné al inicio. Además, es bisexual, y amamos una buena representación bisexual. Asimismo, amo que un libro muestre así de claro que la libertad sexual es parte de la libertad de una persona, que no la hace menos valiosa ni nada por el estilo.

La escritura es muy diferente, y muy caótica, al punto de que te vuelves loco y te mueres de risa todo el rato porque parece que estuvieras hablando con alguien que no deja de darle vueltas al asunto y que no puede hablar de un tema sin desviarse 20 veces de tema. Esa es Elliot. Y como el libro está en primera persona, literalmente todo el rato estamos en su mente. Y su mente me encanta.

En fin, si están buscando una historia refrescante, entretenida y muy importante, lean esta. Además hay mucha representación LGBT+. I MEAN, WE LOVE.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,849 followers
November 18, 2022
I have to say, this is one of the few EMMA retellings that doesn't jump down your throat as an EMMA retelling. And is one of the better homages down in present day (at least that I've read to this point). However.. that doesn't mean I liked it!

Elliot was a chaotic character to read from, which is mostly the point, but it didn't make it enjoyable for me. Because I read an eBook the whole footnote element was mostly lost on me because I was not flipping back and forth to check on them in real-time so is that on me or is that on the eBook? Who can say.

While this is very sex-positive, though nonetheless does run into some realistic backlash as a result, it did get a little.. tired. But thankfully right around the time I was losing interest in her shenanigans (if I never see the word tender and chicken in the same sentence it'll be too soon), it did pivot. So that was good. I did appreciate Elliot working through the emotional element of what she was going through but.. yeah, at that point I think it was too little too late for me.

I'm happy about the end but I think (no, rather, I know) this has an audience that will love it and treasure it but I am not that audience. And that's fine.

I was glad I pushed through this in one sitting because I wasn't looking forward to picking this back up if I had to put it down and I think that says it all.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Dayla.
2,067 reviews201 followers
June 6, 2022
I received a copy via the publisher. This did not affect my rating in any way.

TW: Sexual assault

4.5 Stars!

The only reason why I'm not giving this a five-star rating is because of the beginning (it took me a little bit to get into the story because the MC was so high energy at first). Other than the beginning, this book was such a unique gem. It was unapologetic, fun, and carried some pretty amazing lessons. I loved how progressive this book was, and how it wasn't afraid to tackle that big monster that some authors seem to avoid when it comes to the YA age category: Sex.

I thought the MC had a fantastic character growth arc because the girl in the very beginning of the book gave me anxiety, but the girl at the very end made me want to hug someone. That conclusion was just so pure and cute. I only want the best for the MC, especially after everything she's been through.

My biggest advice for anyone jumping into this book is to give the MC the benefit of the doubt. She comes off as super intense at first, but breathe in and out and tell yourself that this is the MC's world and we're just characters experiencing it. You'll soon come to love the cast of characters, the quirky sisters, and the unforgettable experience of being a freshman in university/college.

Happy reading!
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 21 books374 followers
March 16, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Emily.
454 reviews15 followers
August 13, 2021
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?)
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books486 followers
July 27, 2021
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.
Profile Image for LKay.
231 reviews13 followers
August 31, 2021
DNF @ 30%, this book just wasn’t for me.

I liked the first few chapters where we’re getting to know the characters and I loved seeing Elliot and Lucy’s friendship blossom…but this quickly went downhill for me. I can definitely see the parallels to Emma here, which is one of my least favorite Austen novels so I guess it’s no surprise that I didn’t like this book either.

I didn’t have this kind of college experience and can’t relate to much of what’s going on in this book. I believe in sex-positivity and I’m all for reading steamy smut but the language in this book made me really uncomfortable. Elliot talks about sex in such an immature way that it grosses me out. I got to the part where Elliot starts listing off all of her sexual encounters and had to nope out pretty much immediately because the way that they’re written really made me cringe.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,039 reviews320 followers
August 7, 2021
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.

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