Saturday, May 03, 2014

Tales from My Closet, by Jennifer Anne Moses

Five sophomores struggle through family difficulties.  While the specific details of their obstacles differ (and encompass some pretty heavy subjects like divorce, addiction, and parental neglect), each of these young women share a love of clothes.  And while it might sound a bit pathetic, each chapter (rotating narrators) ties in to a particular piece of clothing.  Rather than displaying vanity, the stories instead show us the importance of clothing and the varieties of ways it plays a role in our lives.

The writing itself is functional and the characters fairly stock items, but the novel benefits from its clever and ambitious concept.  When I cracked the book, I fully expected some tired fashionista agitprop and maybe a bunch of shallow clothes-obsessed girls gabbing about their fave brand names.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while the story does indeed center around clothing, it isn't really about it at all.  There's plenty of wardrobe details here for the reader who craves that stuff, but the clothes are really just props (or maybe literary devices) here.  And, as much as I'd like to chide young readers for caring too much about style and fashion (being a crotchety middle age guy!) I found these stories about self and self-expression to be surprisingly deep.

[Disclosure:  The publisher supplied me with an unsolicited free copy of this book with the hope that I would review it.  Upon finishing the review, I will donate the book to my local public library.  No other compensation was received.]

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