June 06, 2005

Summer Reads: Of High School Cliques and Tank Tops

I've been doing a bit of housekeeping, and ran across this wee book review from A. Fortis on a book I've yet to read: The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks. Into my beach bag it goes! A. Fortis says:

I picked up this book assuming it was going to be total trash. Sure, I was drawn in by the title, but after reading the comment on the front cover by Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries (“Laugh out loud funny and way twisted!”), I assumed it was going to be at worst sappy and at best drearily generic. The back cover didn’t help—the blurb indicated your basic school novel: friendships changing upon entering high school, crushes, cliques, etc. Plus there was a “True Meaning of Cleavage” tank top offer. None of the signs pointed to a meaningful reading experience, but I thought, what the hey. Let’s see what’s considered a trendy teen read.

I was actually pleasantly surprised. It was not “way twisted,” whatever that means to Meg Cabot, but I enjoyed it. There wasn’t an overabundance of deep meaning, but there was much more going on than I expected. The characters were believable and quite well written, although I felt that the narrator, a pre-geeky girl named Jess who’s interested in sci-fi and art (a girl after my own heart!) was a little too wise for her age. Most of the time she seemed at least sixteen to me, with hardly any awkward ninth-grade moments; if she had them, she was somehow too self-aware about them to seem believably a freshman.

But the writing was surprisingly good. I didn’t expect that. The narrator was endearing and funny, and I winced along with her as her friend Sari has various misadventures and becomes susceptible to the high school clique atmosphere. It was a quick, easy, fun read—and I came out of it caring about the characters.


Stay tuned for more books suitable for porch swings and mint juleps.

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