THE TRUE MEANING OF CLEAVAGE by Mariah Fredericks truly captures the freshman year of high school. I wrote the following review when it was released, and I think just as highly of the book now as I did then.
When I first saw the spine of this book, the title struck me as a little shocking. I was struck again upon looking at the cover and seeing the photographed girl wearing a necklace which was the twin of my own. The combined shocks made me immediately read the summary, which sounded like a typical coming-of-age story: Sari and Jess have been best friends for years, but upon entering ninth grade, Jess (the self-proclaimed sci-fi geek) feels like she is losing Sari (the prettier one).
However, this book is anything but typical. It is phenomenal. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. The work is much deeper than the title implies.
Jess is an artist and prefers sketching characters from her favorite comic book; Sari is far more into the high school scene, with status and popularity, and she falls very hard for a senior boy who is already in a committed relationship. This is no crush - this is an obsession, and the reader will truly worry about Sari as she lowers her standards and does things for a boy who is using her. Being a person who loves books set in the voice of the 'third wheel,' the person observing from afar, I found this book more powerful coming from Jess' point of view and applaud the author for choosing that writing style.
The book takes place over an entire school year, September through June, yet it moves along quickly and quite well. After reading the book, I realized that the title was chosen not only to make people pick up the book, but to signify the space between - in this case, the space between the girls.
Highly recommended, especially for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen, Carol Plum-Ucci and Cecil Castellucci.
Also check out her middle school trilogy In the Cards.