HOW to reconcile another’s deep-seated pain, particularly when it is rooted in experiences encountered generations before, is one of many questions posed by author Lexi Freiman in her debut novel Inappropriation.
Freiman follows the experiences of 15-year-old Ziggy Klein as she navigates friendships, religion, identity, feminism and politics at a prestigious private Sydney girls’ school.
Growing up, Ziggy was privy to harrowing accounts of her grandmother’s Holocaust experiences.
“She had a sense of her Jewishness as being wrapped up [in being] both exceptional and also suffering”, Freiman told The AJN by phone from New York where the former Sydneysider now resides.
“Jewish people saddle this unique position in society … where they are included in the culture and thrive, but there is scapegoating that often rears its ugly head in moments of crisis in the West.”
In conducting research for her book, Freiman attended constellation therapy, allowing her entry into a part of her psyche that was previously untapped.
“Towards the end of the book Ziggy goes to one of these therapy sessions and watches people dealing with their pain,” said Freiman.
“There is this anxiety that you still hold in your body generations after that kind of trauma,” she remarked, leading to another pertinent question raised in the book: How much of our identity comes from an experience of inherited trauma, pain, suffering, oppression or exclusion?
At first glance, Inappropriation may be deemed a book for youth about identity, inclusion and exclusion within a school setting, but the themes explored are likely to resonate with all generations.
“A coming of age story can be a good container for lots of ideas that are in an early phase of development,” said Freiman, whose early years as a teen in Sydney made their imprint on Inappropriation.
“I went to a private girls school in the eastern suburbs 20 years ago, so all the [content about] social media in the book was injected into an environment that was familiar,” commented Freiman.
“That kind of environment is the crucible for girls to enact all of their political drama.”
Down the track, she hopes to adapt her novel into a TV show.
“At this point, that is very far in the future,” she said. “It would be so exciting that I can’t quite imagine it.”
Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman is published Allen & Unwin, $29.99 (rrp)