Verdict: DREAMING OF FROZEN YEARS is a sad, coming-of-age cautionary tale about the fragility of young people whose naivety and lack of self-control have them walking on thin ice.
College life. What every high-achieving high school student dreams of: Breaking away from living under the strict directives of parents, microwaveable dinners, intimate conversations at odd hours, navigating the complexities of romantic relationships, sexual exploration and balancing hard studying with, oh yes, plenty of hard partying. But on the West Coast at a university circa the late 1990s where days are sweltering, a hard light is cast on the darker side of campus life in Aaron McCool’s debut fiction novel in which crimes like drinking while intoxicated, drug abuse, vandalism and rape are commonplace.
“My body is a temple; every time I do a shot or something, I’m paying homage,” says Danielle, a cell phone-worshipping oft-drunk party girl. Though having roots from a dysfunctional family, Danielle is the only one to forge a genuine connection with the narrator who listens to her tell a tragic fairytale her father told her about a dancer whose life was doomed to an unhappily ever after and died of a broken heart in a frozen year. Similar to their own reality, these kids’ view of the American Dream is warped as their shady lives unfold as popular television programs like “Pulp Fiction,” “CSI Miami” and “Friday the 13th” are playing in their dorm rooms.
Meanwhile, a scheming lass named Anna Lee uses her street smarts to involve the narrator in a plan to rob a convenience store and vandalizes a fellow student’s belongings as an act of vengeance. Aside from these young adults whose dialect is peppered with expletives and showing a blunt intolerance for so-called idiocy in English class (“I didn’t take a single f*cking note”) and the humiliation imposed by the unabashed rejecter (“What’s your name?” asks a “loser” boy to a pretty prospect. “Busy,” says the status-obsessed girl curtly.) Most importantly, the book shines a light on feminism, bringing to the forefront female issues that typical school-age women fall victim to: negative body images, a lack of self-respect, and innocent women tricked and gang raped at “nookie parties” and the shame and trauma associated with it – a topic that is still very relevant to rapes that are reported in the news in the present day.
In DREAMING OF FROZEN YEARS, the author deftly captures the spirit of naïve youngsters whose hard-partying and juvenile behaviors make their futures seem precarious similar to Larry Clark’s 1995 controversial film “Kids” with a target audience geared towards high school and college-aged young people told in rad young-people speak.
~Lianna Albrizio for IndieReader