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The True Meaning of Cleavage (Junior Library Guild Selection) Hardcover – March 1, 2003
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7-9-Jess and Sari, best friends, are starting their freshman year at Eldridge Alternative. Sari immediately falls "madly, psychotically in love" with senior David Cole, who is dating Thea, the most popular girl in school. Sari is pretty, "hot" even, with plenty of cleavage; she goes out of her way to attract David's attention and the two of them begin to have secret sexual encounters. Jess, the narrator, is smart, artistic (not hot), and into science fiction. The two girls begin to drift apart as the affair with David leads to a monomaniacal Sari, leaving Jess with practically no friends save the odd, social-misfit Danny. The story has been done before-best friends argue because of boy and eventually become pals again-but Fredericks has given Jess a fresh voice that will appeal to fans of Ann Brashares's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Delacorte, 2001). Jess is a strong character as she goes through all the motions-the painfulness of being on the outside, having a friend ignore her, and finding that she can develop other friendships. Readers will be intrigued by and possibly disturbed about Sari's obsession with David, but the real story is Jess dealing with the pain of betrayal and beginning to understand human nature. A decent "best-friends" story that will appeal to many readers.
Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Hillsboro, OR
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. Sari is "madly, psychotically" in love with David, a senior at Manhattan's Eldridge Alternative School. Jess, a freshman like Sari, and the story's narrator, has not crossed the psychological divide that makes boyfriends more important than girlfriends and is frustrated, even frightened, as Sari begins drifting away when David shows some interest. But rather than a girlfriend (he already has one of those, a cool kid like himself), Sari is his backstreet girl, dutifully visiting David to service him on Thursday afternoons and telling herself they have a secret romance. At first, Jess tries to be a supportive friend, but in a fit of pique, she discloses the relationship to a blabbermouth, and the law of unintended consequences immediately kicks in. Fredericks, a first-time novelist, writes with amazing truth and perception. These characters are kids whom readers see every day, and the emotions so clearly on display are ones that they've experienced in their guts. Some readers will recognize Jess' wrenching feelings of being left behind and the desperate gyrations to turn the world right again. But others will identify with Sari, whose first hormonal surges lead her to places like behind a bathroom door at a party, when she first catches David's eye. The book's ending is both honest and hopeful. Things happen, corrections are made, and then--with luck--everyone moves on. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
I felt as if I was that age again. The author really captures what is to be starting high school and wondering if your best friend is still your best friend and if it is why the hell is she acting so weird?
And Danny? Danny was great.
Surprisingly, though David sounds jerky and he is a jerk, there I can summon some simpathy for him. Is like you see to sides of the same coin: Jerk-David with Sari, Non-Jerk-David with Jess.
I don't know what I could say.
Just go read it.
I guarantee you will love it.
P.S. My 11 yr old stepdaughter ate this book up. I withheld the book from her halfway thru it till she cleaned her room. I never saw her clean that room so quickly. Now if I could only get the book back from her...
For once, we get to read about a young girl (Jess) who actually doesn't give a rat's patootey about "fitting in" and doing dumb things and learning her lesson like the morons in the old After School Specials of the 1970s. She's smart, talented but doesn't think she's beautiful. Not that she whines about it about blemishes or anything - if there's one thing I hate, it's being asked to sympathize with Pretty People With Problems, but she honestly calls herself 'ordinary - that her features would look better on a boy. But this is her perception, based on comparing herself with the "hot" people. High school politics give them all the power, and she sees and resents it without hating herself or thinking she's less than they are. Her problems are in cherishing a friendship and wondering if she'll lose it. The 'cleavage' of the title refers to 'separation' between friends who are different enough for that to be a problem in high school. If Sari prefers to move onto popular cliques, what's someone who doesn't give a crap about that stuff supposed to do? Wait around and be a sounding board for Sari's problems? That's a problem too - Jess cares, but not enough to sacrifice her own needs just to be the 'long-suffering best friend' of the "hot girl". She's burdened with keeping her best friend's secrets and young enough to be confused about what to do, if anything.
The True Meaning of Cleavage tells the story of two best friends, Jess and Sari, whom have little fear about starting highschool, believing their strong friendship will see them through. As it normally happens, however, Sari --- the beautiful one, the exotic one, the funny one, the perfect one, the one that Jess considers to be the 'better one' --- becomes enamored with the one boy that she can't have. And then that boy lets her have him, even though he's got a girlfriend. Jess, therefore, is left in the cold, suffering from the kind of heartache that only losing a best friend can bring across. The only question is whether or not her friendship with Sari is strong enough to sail through this storm unscathed.
Recently, I picked this book out of my shelf to reread it once more. This time for a more specific reason. I find myself relating more and more to Jess, now that my own best friend --- the best friend that called herself "Sari" after we read this book and decided it had been written about us --- has brushed off our friendship, a friendship I once thought to be unbreakable, in favor of the boy she's fancied herself in love with. When we first read The True Meaning of Cleavage freshmen year, we related to the interactions between the friends, the secret language they had, the way they were there for each other, the inside jokes and quirky mannerisms that only made sense to themselves. "But," we always said, "we would never get into that kind of a situation. Bros before hoes." I wonder if my best friend, my "Sari", remembers this book now that she's pushed me out of her life in order to make room for The Boy.....the boy that was supposed to be mine, by the way.
This book is very special to my heart. It can make me cry when nothing else can. I know I'm not alone in my struggle through the Frienship Wars. I know there are other girls out there whom have suffered the same things I'm suffering through right now. I'm not naive in thinking I'm the only person who can understand Jess and her cause. I'm a veteran soldier in these wars, after all. (This is my third go-around.) All I'm asking is that this story be carefully handled. Think of it with as much fondness and tenderness as it deserves to be. Put yourself in Jess's position, especially when That Boy comes around and tries to tempt you away from your best friend. The grass is never greener on the other side.
Most recent customer reviews
These are the words that start out both the beginning and end of THE TRUE MEANING OF CLEAVAGE, a cute...Read more