Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman
Ziggy Klein is fifteen years old, and has just left her comfortable, Jewish high school for the chaos of the uber prestigious Kandara Girls School, where Sydney’s elite send their teenagers. Surrounded by cliques and confusing new social pecking orders, she struggles to fit in. At home, Ziggy is confronted by her therapist mother’s aggressively gendered second-wave feminism, her father’s potentially adulterous behaviours, her holocaust-survivor grandmother’s love of bejeweled kaftans and her younger brother’s internet obsession. Everywhere she turns, Ziggy feels out of step with the world around her – like a freak. Eventually she falls in with Lex and Tessa, fellow social outcasts, and Kandara’s most radical feminists. The trio spend their days hanging out at the local mall and discussing Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto.
This book is so extremely funny, I couldn’t stop giggling. When Tessa and Lex turn to more conventional ways of life, eschewing feminist theory for finding boyfriends and planning their formal gowns, Ziggy is devastated and, once more, completely isolated. In her hour of need, she turns again to Haraway, experimenting with transhumanism by strapping her brother’s go-pro to her head. This is a perfect example of Freiman’s humor – she takes intricate concepts from academia and applies them literally, on teenagers, the result of which is both bizarre and thought-provoking.
Inappropriation is as intelligent as it is amusing – the conversations between Ziggy and her friends about all the -isms they’ve read about on the internet are hysterical. While this novel has the personality of an American satire, it is not devoid of warmth. Every character seems to take a stereotype and turn it totally on its head. Ziggy is an excellent heroine – she is uncertain, pubescent, extremely serious and unwittingly hilarious. This is a sharply humourous social commentary, and one of the strongest Australian debuts I have read in quite some time.