Inappropriation

By Lexi Freiman
Published 2018
GoodReads rating: 3.58 out of 5
GL rating: 0 out of 10

Inappropriation reads like the raw first draft of a novel that was written by a precocious non-native speaker of English. At page 140, I put it to rest.

For starters, there is the errant use of fairly basic words. On page 49, a character makes "eye contact" with a magazine, but you can't make eye contact with a magazine because magazines have no eyes to make contact with. 

On page 14, the students at the elite girls high school that Ziggy (the protagonist) attends are stuck by the nurse with "HPV," which refers human papillomavirus. I think Freiman meant to write that the students were stuck with the vaccine rather than the virus. 

Page 14 is also where we see in the text the word "enlargening," which is not in Merriam-Webster and which Microsoft Word reads as an error. 

Freiman uses and misspells unselfconscious, twice.

"Enlargening," "unself-conscious," and a few subject-verb agreement errors, lead me to believe that no one bothered to run the manuscript through a spelling and grammar check. 

In some cases, the quality of the writing may be more of a matter of taste; the abs of the gay patrons of a dance club are referred to as "lurid." While "lurid abs" may be proper English ... it is botched writing. And to tell you the truth, I'm not sure it's the correct use of the word lurid. We can agree to disagree on this. 

Here is another gem:

"'I'm going to have to get off in a minute..." Rowena says, a smile creeping into her voice.'"

I don't understand how you write the phrase "...a smile creeping into her voice."

The characters in Inappropriation range from flat to incoherent. Ziggy's grandmother is described as being stuck in the Old Testament, and then on the next page we learn that she's regarded as a local fashion icon and has multiple online dating profiles. The grandmother is "progressive," but "has no respect for the poor or uneducated."

Of course good characters contain contradictions, but the sloppy language choices throughout the novel gave me the impression that this character whip-lash is unintentional. Regardless, it was not artful. 

The book suffers from larger, more generalized deficiencies. It's described as a satire, but what exactly is being satirized? "Politically correct" attitudes? Or the three female students who dominate the first 140 pages of the book and who struggle to understand identity politics?

Neither of those options -- punching down at wealthy, misguided teen-aged girls or embracing a Fox News critique of PC culture -- strike me as a promising framework for a novel. 

At times Inappropriation seems to dabble in racism or ableism itself. One minor character is described as an "albino minion" of Ziggy's. That's all we get about him or her; he or she is defined by their disability, which struck me as gratuitous and shitty.

There are some cringe-inducing passages about Asian students:

"Above these girls sit the brilliant Asians, who are presumed virgins and suffer a constant stream of pens and erasers to their ponytails, especially on test days. Ziggy hopes their weekends are rich with friendship and adventure. Then come the cool homework-averse Asians, who hide behind make-up and an air of disaffection. They are both sexy and cute in a perfect ratio that Ziggy's own slight form fails to achieve. She covets their straight noses and smooth hairless arms."  

I'm not sure if that technically qualifies as racist, but it strikes me as kind of gross, and 2018 is the wrong year to be publishing novels that might be a little racist.