Parents' Guide to

The True Meaning of Cleavage

By Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Despite risque cover, this is about friendship.

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The cover, with the title words plunging down a girl's low neckline and a "laugh out loud funny and way twisted" endorsement by Meg Cabot, give the wrong impression of this book's tone. It's an insightful, introspective story about the bonds -- and frailties -- of friendship. Jess is rather horrified by Sari's behavior, which includes drinking and casual oral sex. A popular clique ("the Prada Mafia") comes off as stereotypical, but Fredericks avoids turning the older crush and his girlfriend into villains. Without didacticism, she highlights the drawbacks of Sari's sacrifices, even when Sari doesn't perceive them as such.

At times, the story bogs down and readers join Jess in wishing that Sari would just move on already. Teens may root for Sari's success with her true love, but Fredericks rightly sticks with the harsh reality of broken promises. Jess learns she can survive outside Sari's flamboyant shadow while still supporting her friend.

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