Satire is a difficult genre to neatly define, but if we call it the use of humor, irony and exaggeration to expose the stupidity of certain parts of contemporary culture, then Inappropriation, Lexi Freiman’s debut, is certainly a satirical novel ... Ziggy Klein, the protagonist, has a fitting name. She zigs and zags through opinions and ways of seeing the world over the course of the book, always in search of understanding. We meet this curious Australian teenager just after she leaves her Jewish school and begins attending the upper-crust Kandara, a private school for girls in Sydney ... Inappropriation is certainly intelligent and has its finger on the zeitgeist of the Instagram and Tumblr generation, but it also paints the worst possible picture of teenagers trying to understand themselves. Who is the book’s intended audience, really? Those of us who understand our own complexities and nuances, and can laugh at the book’s exaggerations of them? Or those who think that all identity politics is nonsense? Surely both groups will enjoy it, but for very different, and in the latter case perhaps troubling, reasons. In satire as in life, there’s a difference between laughing with people and laughing at them.
Freiman’s coming-of-age satire is a humorous and bawdy skewering of identity politics. Ziggy, 15, attends a prestigious Australian all-girls private school, where she struggles with having a flat chest, not being popular, and confusing sexual fantasies that often involve Nazis ... Ziggy is a wonderful character to lead the satirical charge, as she’s convincingly just trying to figure out who she is and how she belongs in the world. Her earnestness offsets the over-the-top humor. Although the novel loses some steam at the halfway point, Freiman’s assured writing carries readers through to the surprisingly heartwarming end.
Freiman perfectly depicts the timeless awkwardness of growing up with the more modern awkwardness of having your life broadcast on social media, and thus growing up in front of the rest of the world. This is a very strong first novel from a promising voice.