Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls.


192 pages
ISBN 978-1-894549-76-9
DDC 813'.0108352352





Edited by Deb Loughead, and Jocelyn Shipley
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


Despite the collection’s title, only three of Cleavage’s 15 stories actually “feature” breasts. However, all of the stories, which range in length from seven to 14 pages, revolve around girls’ body images and/or the girls’ relationships with their mothers. Another prevalent theme is that of society’s messages regarding ideal female beauty.


With one exception, the contributors, many first-time authors, are Canadian. Three, Robin Stevenson, Wendy A. Lewis, and Karen Crossing, have previously written book-length works for adolescents. The challenges facing the central female characters, who range in age from 13 to 18, include breasts that are too small (Kellee Ngan’s “The Puberty Theory” and Patricia McCowan’s “Change Room”) and breasts that are too large (Jennifer Filipowicz’s “My So Not Ballerina Boobs”). Hairy legs feature in Anna Wärje’s “Wax World” and Lisabeth Jackson’s “Presenting Miss Gorilla Legs,” while an absence of pubic hair is of concern in Claire Tacon’s “Bare.” A daughter’s negative reaction to her mother’s Botox injections is experienced in Amanda Hartley’s “My Mother’s Poison,” while weight plays a role in Robin Stevenson’s “About My Curves” and Anne Ptasznik’s “Fat Genes.” Embarrassing and/or controlling mothers can be found in Valerie Hunter’s “Former Juice Girl Eats World’s Largest Taco,” Wendy A. Lewis’s “The Giant Regina,” Karen Krossing’s “Profanity,” and Ev Bishop’s “My Mom is a Freak.” Mood-wise, the stories range from Ann Sutherland’s humorous “Faceless on the Farm” to Mar’ce Merrell’s sombre “The Cake Princess.”


The stories all exhibit positive endings, including, in many cases, mother-daughter reconciliations. Highly recommended.


“Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,