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Gr 7–10—In a story reminiscent of Ann Brashares's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Delacorte, 2001), this novel intertwines the lives of five teens who use fashion as a means of coping with the problems in their lives. Justine's sense of fashion is the one constant in her life as she is bounces from city to city to accommodate her distant father's job. Becka takes comfort in designer clothing as a means of escaping her mother, a psychologist who exposes Becka in her parenting books. Robin's obsession with fashion helps her hide the pain of living with an abusive, alcoholic father. To compensate for her father abandoning the family, Polly's mother indulges her with designer clothes when she can. Ann lives in the shadow of her older, overachieving sister until she discovers her sense of self through her grandmother's vintage wardrobe. An accident, rumored to be a suicide attempt, involving Becka initially pushes the girls apart, but when the facts surrounding the incident come out, they become closer than ever, and the book ends on a positive note. In a time when so many books written for teens push the envelope, this one manages to touch upon current issues without going too far or putting them center stage.—Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT
When Justine moves from San Francisco to New Jersey, she is dismayed by how out-of-place she looks—and feels. Justine is certain that the girls she meets on her first day at school are all laughing at her retro-hip clothing style. Moses then switches from Justine’s point of view to the perspective of gorgeous Becka, who was indeed fiendishly rude to Justine. But Becka has reasons for her simmering anger; her mother is a therapist who writes about adolescent behavior, using Becka as source material. Each subsequent chapter is taken up by another character: Robin, who dresses her lean body in stylish pajamas; Polly, an athlete who thinks that her body is too big; and Ann, a petite girl embarrassed by her undeveloped body. Friendship tentatively grows among the girls, but it takes a tragedy for them to realize how damaging obsessing about appearances can be. In this quick, slightly repetitive read that recalls Ann Brashares’ Traveling Pants series, the characters find support for all aspects of their lives through their common love of fashion. Many young women will relate to the clothing experiments as an expression of the quixotic search for self, and its parallel search for the romantic other. Grades 9-12. --Diane ColsonSee all Editorial Reviews