Does My Body Offend You?

Knopf. Apr. 2022. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593425855.
Gr 10 Up–This pitch-perfect character study, delivered by alternating narrators, explores intersectionality and feminism through the lens of a friendship hastily built on big ideas and even bigger blind spots. Both Ruby and Malena are newcomers to a high school in Florida. Ruby is white and hails from Seattle, overshadowed by her activist older sister. When Malena, a Puerto Rican transplant whose life was turned upside down by Hurricane Maria, is disciplined by an assistant principal for not wearing a bra to school, Ruby encourages her to fight back. Readers might think they know where this is going as the two team up to protest the dress code, but they will be surprised: Cuevas and Marquardt unravel the harm of white privilege and explore, not victory, but failure. They break down stereotypes in other characters as well, such as baseball god Carlos and the principal Dr. Hardaway. Readers witness the nuances of the reticent, then impassioned and implosive, friendship between the two narrators. The support that Ruby receives from her grandmother and Malena from her cousins, and the art-making that ensues, which incorporates the experiences and expressions of the entire school community, play a significant role in the healing and repair of relationships in the aftermath of the failed crusade. It includes surprising plot structure with fresh, bona fide dialogue.
VERDICT Young activists will find creative ways to protest and will discover tools to navigate cross-cultural relationships while enjoying an authentic teen tale of romance, friendship, school culture, and body shaming.–

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