Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls

Loughead, Deb. And Jocelyn Shipley, eds. 2008. Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls.

I'm not always the biggest fan of short stories. What I love most about reading is finding depth and substance--usually through characterizations, sometimes through literary style, more rarely through unique plotting and pacing. Short stories can sometimes be lacking in these departments. That isn't always the case.

There were moments of brilliance and delight in Cleavage. There were a handful of stories that impressed me. My absolute favorite from this collection is a story entitled "Faceless On the Farm" by Ann Sutherland. The story is a series of emails exchanged between a teen farm girl and an advice columnist (I'm supposing on this detail) from a teen magazine. (Someone we know simply as "") The girl wants to wear make-up. She wants to feel pretty. Even if her only audience is a bunch of farm animals. Her parents have one excuse after another. But what struck me as so funny was that this "diva" was so clueless about real girls and real life. She's just peddling nonsense. Reading back on what I've written, I am failing to do it justice. There's nothing I can really say now to prove that this one's good...really good. You'll just have to trust me.

My second favorite story was entitled "The Cake Princess" by Mar'ce Merrell. It's a bittersweet story, but I think it has staying power.

While I enjoyed several of the stories, there were others that I was less impressed with. I can't give all stories equal ratings, equal praise. None of the stories were horrid or horrible or a waste of paper. But only a few have staying power--in my opinion--in that the reader will remember them long after the book is closed.

I will add this, however, those "few" good stories may differ for every reader. Some may love this one, while other readers love that one. But chances are you'll find a "few" of your own to love.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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