I can honestly say that I’ve never read a book like Lexi Freiman‘s Inappropriation. It’s funny, with jokes usually told at the expense of some other minority group, or in this case, our not-so-lovingly socially dim protagonist, Ziggy Klein.
With Ziggy, Freiman paints a truly pitiful picture of an impressionable girl (or specifically, “bisexual genderqueer”) and later transhuman cyborg when she starts using a GoPro to record the Cates, a clique of popular girls at her school. When she befriends Tessa and Lex, she’s plunged headfirst into a world of misinformed political correctness and butchered feminist politics. Both girls are minorities in their own right: Tessa is disabled with a prosthetic arm and Lex was adopted from Bangladesh. Together the pair seeks out to enlighten Ziggy on these subjects, using Donna Haraway’s essay “A Cyborg Manifesto” as a guide while dropping truly cringe-worthy one-liners.
For instance: “Moses made the Israelites wander the desert for 40 years so that they would forget their bondage. Which explains the amnesia between third-wave and postfeminism.”
And I just have to share this one: “The prison-industrial complex is making it nearly impossible for black people to stay straight.”
As if she wasn’t confused enough to begin with, what with thinking that she hears Hitler Youth affirming every negative thought she has about herself in addition to trying to figure herself out.
Of course, the entire novel is intended to be a satire, but it felt like the satire overwhelmed the actual plot of the story: a girl trying to find her identity in a world where there are different spectrums, terms, and labels for people and lifestyles. It moves through plot points at the speed of light, so fast that I would forget exactly what was going on and to flip back a few pages for a reminder. This happened mostly when Tessa and Lex attempt to wax poetic on defining who constituted as oppressed and who constituted as oppressors.
For example, when Tessa takes Ziggy on a “tour” of the carpool queue after school one day, she calls the mothers waiting for their daughters Israelites because they are “slaves to the patriarchy,” and claims that the “amnesia between third-wave and postfeminism” is because Moses had the Israelites wander through the desert for 40 years so they’d forget about their own bondage.
“The carpool queue has just internalized their own oppression. Like the Israelis,” Tessa says. This, in turn, leads the reader on a wild two-and-a-half page rambling a-la Tessa about who is and isn’t oppressed and why the girls they go to school with will end up just like their moms by marrying men just like their dads. If you’re dizzy or thoroughly confused, buckle your seatbelts because that was only pages 26 to 28.
Inappropriation starts off with a promising base of a plot: a young girl, coming into her own identity while at the same time trying to make sense of the world around her. However, with Tessa and Lex’s horrendous attempts at enlightening their new friend, Inappropriation could be better titled The Miseducation of Ziggy Klein.