Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review: Finding Freia Lockhart by Aimee Said

Finding Freia Lockhart - Aimee Said

When Freia Lockhart’s best friend, Kate Smith, bonds with one of the coolest girls at school over a lip gloss, Freia doesn’t realise that her entire existence at Westside Girls Grammar is about to change. Given a taste of what it’s like to be popular, Kate is determined to befriend the Bs -Belinda, Bethanee and Brianna- and become just as cool as them. Unfortunately for Freia, the only way she can maintain her friendship with Kate is if she, too, spends time with the Bs (who she doesn’t particularly like). Soon recess and lunchtimes are spent sitting around discussing boys and makeup, and the once-weekly sleepovers have dwindled to once a month.
Things at home aren’t much better, with Freia’s father constantly treating her like a little girl, and her mother regularly consulting her self-help books to ensure that Freia becomes a successful teenager (and doesn’t go into a downward spiral like so many others her age).
To make matters worse, the girls audition for the school musical and convince Freia to try out too, in the hope that they can meet some cute boys from Westside Boys High.
She soon finds herself on the balcony, working as a lighting assistant beside rumoured druggie Daniel ‘Skeletor’ Taylor-Fairchild.
Freia- who has never kissed a boy, let alone talked to one- is suddenly thrust into the deep end when she has to share a confined space with someone who everybody else seems to dislike. But she soon learns that there is more to some people than meets the eye, and begins to question the friendships she has made. Freia has to decide whether she wants to continue being acquainted with the bitchy Bs, or whether she should pursue new friendships, even if she faces derision for them…

What I gained from reading this book:
This book tackles the notion that you can’t always believe what you hear, and this point is covered thoroughly through the tentative friendship between Freia and Daniel (aka Skeletor). Rumours abound where Daniel is involved- his classmates are convinced that he was expelled from his former school for taking drugs, or for bashing up a guy and putting him in hospital. But Freia soon begins to realise that all the rumours are just that- rumours. She discovers that he’s really just a quiet, misunderstood guy whose physical appearance invites ridicule and gossip. Once she gets to know him, she is quick to dismiss everything that has been said about him behind his back.
This novel also covers social hierarchies in the school community. Freia is yet to find her place in the school pecking order. She’s not popular- that honour belongs to the bitchy Bs- but she’s also not at the bottom end of the scale, like quiet Vicky Soong or ‘punk girl’ Siouxsie Sheldon. While Kate is desperate to belong in the upper end of the popularity stakes, even neglecting Freia in order to get there, Vicky and Siouxsie (who are ostracised by the Bs) turn out to be better friends to Freia over the course of the year.
Siouxsie, Vicky and Freia have a lot in common, and although Freia is hesitant in the beginning to form new friendships for fear of getting teased, her need for close companionship soon outweighs her apprehension. These instances are common in everyday life, especially in a school environment. Finding Freia Lockhart teaches us that sometimes people aren’t quite what you expect, and it’s better to get to know a person rather than believe unfounded rumours about them.

It takes a while for Freia to break free from the negative influences of the Bs, but when she eventually learns to be her own person, you can’t help but cheer for her.
Her transition- from a shy, awkward girl who has never spoken to a boy, to being a strong-willed, more confident young woman- is gradual, but inspiring nonetheless.

Throughout most of the book, it seems as though Freia barely tolerates her family- she thinks her parents baby her and treat her like a child, by not letting her do what other girls her age are allowed. But when they unexpectedly do the opposite and let her go to parties, she wishes they would say no so she’d have an excuse to avoid going. This contradictory behaviour can get a tad annoying, but I suppose it’s only a natural part of being a teenager (ie, not knowing exactly what you want!)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Genre: Teenage Fiction

Recommended for: Teenagers who are trying to find their place within the school community but still aren’t sure where they belong.
Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Finding Freia Lockhart: How Not to be a Successful Teen

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