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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Freshmen Fifteen is a coming of age novel written by Jasmine Sheffield. When we first meet Laila, she and her best friend Tanya are planning a big night out after graduation. They will be spending the night with their boyfriends for the first time. Laila's day is shattered when she hears that her boyfriend has been arrested. Her parents had never approved of their going out together, and Laila is starting to get the feeling that they were right. Besides, Tanya's brother, Josh, is really quite nice and attractive, even if he does treat her like a little sister. Laila and Tanya have been planning to go to school together at Lee University and are excited to finally go to orientation, but Tanya starts to get morning sickness and realizes that she's pregnant. Laila ends up going to school on her own and meets two new friends, Jennifer and Nicole, who become like a second family to her. She also has her eye on a very sexy senior.
Jasmine Sheffield's coming of age novel, Freshmen Fifteen, is a beautifully written and compelling story about a young African-American woman's first year in college. Laila had expected to share the experience with her friend Tanya and hadn't dreamed that Tanya would end up missing it. Laila and Tanya were both taking birth control pills in preparation for their special night with their boyfriends, and still Tanya got pregnant and her life drastically changed. This very unfair set of circumstances understandably makes Laila even more uneasy about sex. The reader gets to spend an academic year with Laila, who embraces the school and its traditions wholeheartedly. There's homecoming, classes, frat parties, and lots of dancing. There's also late nights studying for exams and looking around for a certain, very good-looking senior. Freshmen Fifteen made me smile as I read it. Sheffield makes her characters and their lives seem real, and one quickly gets involved in what happens to them. I was sorry to see the last page come and go, and am hoping for a sequel.