Friday, September 18, 2009

Breaking Up (A Fashion High graphic novel) by Aimee Friedman; Art by Christine Norrie

Just remember: "There's a fine line between a friend and an enemy."

Chloe Sacks is excited to start her junior year at Georgia O’Keefe School of the Arts (aka Fashion High) with her three best friends, MacKenzie, Erika and Isabel. Together they set themselves apart from the other students and hold a solid place in the school’s popularity ranks. However as school gets underway, Chloe realizes things aren’t quite the same between the four girls. She is particularly bothered by MacKenzie, who seems to become obsessed with climbing the Fashion High popularity ladder. In order to obtain posh status MacKenzie begins hanging out with Nicola Burnett, one of the most popular and beautiful girls at the school. (Nicola also seems shallow and stuck-up.) Mackenzie also starts flirting with Nicola’s boyfriend, Gabe. Chloe is troubled by the ever-present sense that she and her three best friends are growing apart.

Chloe has another issue. She recently befriended Adam, who doesn’t rank well with the popular crowd in high school. In the past he has often been the butt of Gabe’s jokes and taunting. Her BFFs, especially MacKenzie, would ridicule her if they knew that she and Adam spoke to each other in class. She would be committing “social suicide” if she started hanging out with Adam, even it was strictly platonic. However, Chloe sees something special in Adam, especially after he shows her one of his paintings. As they sit next to each other in art class she begins to realize he’s more than a geek obsessed with math and science. Chloe eventually invites Adam to Gabe’s New Year’s Eve party and her friends are far from supportive. Based on the way they reacted to the two of them together, Chloe decides to continue seeing Adam, but doesn’t tell anyone.

Eventually Chloe and Adam’s secret romance is discovered. Her friends are furious for lying to them, and Adam thinks Chloe is ashamed of him. Chloe is left alone to ponder her future and determine if these lifelong friendships are worth saving. She also needs to come to terms with her heart and what people might think about her falling for a math and science geek.

If you enjoyed Plain Janes and Janes’ in Love by Cecil Castellucci, you will enjoy Breaking Up. Christine Norrie’s illustrations are simple, clean, and capture the personality of each character. It makes me wish Hopeless Savages was still in print. As well, it is easy to see a little bit of yourself and probably your friends in Friedman’s characters. Chloe’s struggle with maintaining a lifelong friendship is an identifiable struggle while in high school. People change as they get older, and true friendship can sustain such things.

Other books available at Moore Memorial Public Library by Aimee Friedmann: Sea Change, The Year My Sister Got Lucky, A Novel Idea, and South Beach.

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