June 13, 2005

Okay... so what book did Meg Cabot read?!

Her quote on the back cover says "Laugh out loud funny and way twisted!" Um, not exACTLY the viewpoint I got from The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks. This book had its humorous moments, certainly, but the true meaning of the word 'cleavage' is not what the cover of the book implies -- that it's about a girl and her high school world, and her boobs. It's about cleavage -- as in being reft in twain. As in separation, and parting. It's about losing a friend.

(I wonder if Fredericks chose the title herself? Why don't I get ideas like that?)

This book has more than excellent characterizations going for it. It has a flawless tone. Fredericks captures the intensely flavored world of high school, where so much is going on -- and so much of it is completely pointless but held as if it's life or death -- that it boggles the mind. The unapologetically ordinary narrator, Jess, realizes that her friend Sari is moving faster and farther than she is in the high school cesspool, and while she is troubled, she is also very well aware of the realities of high school -- that it's filled with evil people and it's all just a freakin' game. Did I mention that Jess is a tad cynical?

It could be argued that the narrator was simply too cool and her best friend too -- self-destructive to be believable. I find myself cheering for Jess in those odd moments she realizes that she can just stop censuring and judging everyone and have fun. I might have added more embarrassing moments for Jess, but I can't detract from the truth of her characterization. She plays her cards close to her chest, is wary and sneering in her own silent way, and is just like hundreds of other high school students: if you can't join 'em, hate 'em. I do think it's positive that Fredericks introduces a foil to Jess' overly-avid cynicism.

A. Fortis, who suggested this book to the WritingYA crew, mentioned a tank top ad.

My copy had no ad (alas!), but I did feel like the writing was really skillful and this wasn't a waste of time. Check it out -- Meg Cabot be darned.

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