Dress Coded

Carrie Firestone. Putnam, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-984816-43-6

When Olivia Bonaventura, a girl in Molly Frost’s eighth grade class, is dress coded for wearing a tank top with spaghetti straps, it results in the class camping trip being canceled. Everyone blames Olivia, but she’d only removed her sweatshirt to cover a period blood stain on her white jeans. It’s the latest example of the school’s unfair rules, which target young women (“the girls with boobs and butts, the prettiest girls, and the girls with long legs”) and fail to account for socioeconomic and other circumstances that can make the code challenging to adhere to. Molly begins Dress Coded: a Podcast, where students share their experiences and together try to challenge the rules. As the students protest, Molly learns the power of her voice and finds the strength to handle hardships at home, namely her brother’s vaping addiction and dealing of vape pods to middle schoolers. With timely, important anecdotes that ring painfully true, Firestone (The Unlikelies) cuts to the heart of the damage that dress coding can inflict. Chapters alternate between podcasts and letters that Molly writes in this deeply satisfying, variously inclusive journey with a wonderfully flawed main character. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (July) [/em]
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