Friedman's (South Beach) narrator, Chloe Sacks, is a self-described "aspiring artist, chronic daydreamer, borderline neurotic," and tells the story of her junior year at Georgia O'Keeffe School for the Arts in flashbacks. The volume strikes a sure balance between realistic issues and teenage sarcasm. For instance, the school is nicknamed "Fashion High" because of the ridiculous sartorial standard set by the students. Chloe is distraught to notice that her lifelong best friend, Mackenzie, is becoming distant, shallow and increasingly obsessed with popularity. Two-time Eisner nominee Norrie depicts a hilarious panel for the image of Mackenzie's "nightmare... los[ing] our precarious social footing": the tops-turvy friends are being sucked into a black hole labeled "unpopular!" Chloe befriends nerdy-but-oddly-handsome Adam, despite the damage such a friendship could do to her "popular girl" status. The two become a couple, but Chloe keeps it a secret from Mackenzie and their two other "inner circle" friends, Erika and Isabel. When the trio discovers Chloe's secret, she inadvertently alienates all three friends—as well as Adam. The stakes get higher: Erika deals with a pushy boyfriend who wants sex, Mackenzie's scheming social climbing explosively backfires. In the final chapters, Friedman moves from giggly gossip, instant messages and lattes, to a thoughtful exploration of the difficult time the girls have reconciling their friendships, and learning to accept each other for who they are. For teens going through similar dilemmas, this book will likely be a great source of comfort. Ages 15-up. (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
KLIATT - George Galuschak
Breaking Up is about a group of four girls who are about to start their junior year at Georgia O'Keefe High School, aka "Fashion High." They've been best friends forever, but how a year can change things! The source of this upheaval isyou guessed itguys. Erika is dating a guy who wants to have sex, but she isn't ready for sex just yet. Isabel's parents are very strict, so she's constantly fighting with them to even date. Mackenzie is secretly seeing the boyfriend of the most popular girl in school; when said girl discovers this, her vengeance is terribleshe photocopies Mackenzie's diary and plasters it all over the school. Chloe starts dating Adam, the artsy guy she sits next to in class. She doesn't tell her friends because Adam ranks below mollusks in the social strata of Fashion High, and this is what tears the group apart. Although Breaking Up deals with issues like dating and popularity, it is really about how friendships can change (and sometimes break) over time. The b/w art focuses on the characters and their facial expressions; as might be expected, all the young people in this graphic novel are attractive. The girls in Breaking Up are sympathetic, realistic characters. The guys get shorter shrift. The most fleshed-out male is Adam, a hunk in glasses and a Star Trek t-shirt who is way too mature to be in high school. Despite this minor quibble, I recommend this graphic novel highly. Its intended audience (teenage girls) will love it. Breaking Up contains girls talking about sex in a non-explicit way (as in, "my boyfriend wants us to have sex") and one vulgarity (Mackenzie calls Chloe a bitch).
VOYA - Rachel Wadham
Friedman, author of South Beach (Scholastic, 2004) and French Kiss (Scholastic, 2005) joins Norrie, an adult graphic novel artist for Oni Press, in this light tale of four high school friends. Chloe, Erika, Isabel, and MacKenzie, friends since middle school, find that their junior year in high school is much more than they expected. When MacKenzie starts trying to climb the social ladder by hanging out more with the school's most popular girl, Nicola, while at the same time secretly hooking up with Nicola's boyfriend, Chloe finds herself at the very bottom of popularity as she falls for the school geek, Adam. Family and boyfriend tensions in the other girl's lives all combine to break up the girls' long-held friendship and threaten to keep them apart forever. Although there is nothing new about the plot that readers will not have experienced in many other contexts, the graphic format with its gentle take on sex and relationships will attract girl readers of Ann Brashares's books or other similar series. The art is realistic and marred by only a few flaws, such as the need to portray emotion by embedding words into the illustrations and Chole's on-again, off-again eyeglasses. Overall the characters lack depth and the themes are predictable and commonplace, but these things will matter little to those readers who would find the book a readable addition to their graphic novel collections.
VOYA - Geri Diorio
It is junior year for friends Chloe, Erika, Isabel, and MacKenzie at the trendy Georgia O'Keeffe School for the Arts, known to students as Fashion High. All the stereotypical high school plot lines are covered in this book: boy trouble, seeking popularity, being true to oneself, falling in love, staying honest, and maintaining friendships even as one grows and changes. Erika refuses to sleep with her boyfriend, and because of that, they break up. Isabel tries to break away from her family's tight hold on her and establish her independence. MacKenzie plays dangerous games with a fashionable girl's boyfriend while seeking her own popularity. And Chloe falls for a guy whom her friends consider a nerd. Even though Chloe sees more in him, she hides their budding romance from her friends. It has serious consequences for how much they and the boy will trust her. Parents are not much in evidence; the story focuses on the girls. It is almost a baby Sex and the City, complete with fabulous fashions and terrific hair. Nevertheless the story does have some base to it. What happens to Chloe is real and does not end all tied up in a pretty bow-just like life does not-and the girls work at their friendship and learn that change is difficult but necessary. This light, fluffy read is complemented by the art. Norrie's bold, black-and-white drawings have a fun style all their own-like the Archies, but grown up and sophisticated.
VOYA - Lucy Freeman
A few more twists would have livened up the predictable plot of Breaking Up, but it is an enjoyably light read. Each character fits into an exact stereotype, which makes the story shallow but also one that most readers would connect with on some level. Norrie brings the saga to life with fantastic art that fits each character well. It will be a popular read for preteens dreaming of the nonexistent glamour of high school.
This joint venture by Aimee Friedman and Christine Norrie tells the story of four best friends who share everything, including gossip, secrets, classes, and memories. Written and illustrated in the form of a graphic novel, the series of drawings depicts the lives of Chloe, the main character and narrator, and her three best friends, Erika, Isabel, and MacKenzie. As the girls enter their junior year at Georgia O’Keefe School for the Arts, they find it increasingly difficult to maintain their tight friendship. With new conflicts involving parents, boys, popularity, and loyalty coming between them, the four girls begin to bicker and drift apart. Teen readers will be able to identify with Chloe’s feelings of uncertainty. The story of Chloe and her friends is a familiar one that describes and illustrates the girls in such a way that makes them seem real. As the eventful school year progresses Chloe, Erika, Isabel, and MacKenzie go their separate ways. When things do not turn out as they expected, all comes crashing down. Faced with tragedy, they ultimately learn that friendship is what matters most. Reviewer: Elizabeth Murphy
School Library Journal
Dreamy, artistic Chloe alienates her friends Erika, Isabel, and Mackenzie when she falls for Adam, the biggest outcast in their high school. The conventional cartoon style of the black-and-white drawings is attractive and accessible, giving the story the look of a hipper "Archie" comic. The resulting tone is light and squeaky clean. Chloe and Adam's romance is sweetly awkward, and the friends ultimately support one another with heartfelt advice. There are some mature themes: Mackenzie has already lost her virginity, and Erika's boyfriend is pressuring her to have sex. Still, this entertaining yet simplistic story may appeal to tweens more than teens.
Lisa GoldsteinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.