Deb Caletti's Girl, Unframed is a revelatory condemnation of the objectification of women. Sydney Reilly's starlet mother, Lila Shore, rose to fame years ago because of her role as a Sharon Stone-style femme fatale. Fifteen-year-old Sydney leaves her blissfully normal life at boarding school to spend the summer in San Francisco with her mother and her mother's new tough-guy boyfriend, Jake. After only a few days with the toxic couple, Sydney begins to see the cracks in their glitzy life: her mother's bruises and black eyes, out-of-control finances, shady dealings and priceless art masterpieces suspiciously hidden in their home. The only thing that gives her comfort is Jake's lovable dog and her whirlwind romance with sweet, irresistible Nicco.
Caletti (A Heart in a Body in the World) captures the insidious and ever-present sexualization and exploitation of women with penetrating prose: "My body was a billboard to remark on. My body was someone else's entertainment, a story that had nothing to do with me at all." Raised by women who wielded their beauty for power, Sydney is by turns disgusted, scared and pleased by the effect her body has on the men she encounters. Many readers will recognize the shame and rage the protagonist feels when a flasher exposes himself or she's catcalled by a construction worker. Caletti deftly weaves the Madonna-Whore dichotomy trope through every scene. There is a constant feeling of danger that plagues Sydney as she narrates this tale to an unknown listener, like a confession or testimony. As the plot ratchets up, it becomes clear that a treacherous conclusion awaits. --Shelley Diaz, supervising librarian, BookOps: New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library