This is satire, but it is not sarcasm. A lesser novel than Inappropriation would pick on what the book’s jacket copy calls 'PC culture,' a fruit that hangs so low it might as well be a vegetable. It is easy, and always flattering, to condemn performative wokeness. It is harder, and smarter, to ask if politics ever transcends adolescent fantasy. Ziggy uses the political as an excuse for belonging. Are you telling me you don’t? Freiman suspects you do, and she has the same thick, buttermilky compassion for her readers as she does for her characters, sour and full of saggy lumps. She burlesques them—and you—but only because she identifies. The results are darkly funny. It’s always nice to read a book with the right number of Holocaust jokes ... Freiman’s style, meanwhile, is nimble and pert, parkouring disrespectfully across the suburban mall of the English language with little regard for its more bipedal shoppers ... The author has a particular love of verbing, and she tucks her coinages into paragraphs like tiny, spiky gifts. A lit joint 'jewels'; pubic mounds 'cauliflower'; a tiny boy 'turtles' from his ill-fitting formal wear. For a moment, your eyes are teenagers again, groping inexpertly at the sentence’s bra clasp. Reading rebecomes gawky. The eye trips. The mind chrysanthemums.
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.