Girl, Unframed by Deb Caletti
American YA author Deb Caletti writes powerful stories about young women in challenging circumstances and Girl, Unframed is no exception. Sydney Reilly must leave her friends in Seattle to live with her glamorous, movie star mother in San Francisco for the summer, along with her mother’s new boyfriend. She is 16 years old and just awakening to her sexuality, discovering the vulnerability and danger that goes along with it. The men constantly looking at her are treating her as an object, not a person at all.
Living in a spectacular beachside mansion, Sydney overhears many violent arguments between her child-like mother and her boyfriend, Jake. He makes Sydney feel uncomfortable and there’s something dodgy about the expensive paintings of women being stored in the house. Surely, he can’t actually afford the Picasso and the Lichtenstein on the walls? Something bad is going to happen and brief exhibit notes from a courtroom at the start of each chapter hint at a pending criminal act.
When Sydney develops feelings for a local boy she meets on the beach, she knows it’s something she’s never felt before, but she’s also confused about the difference between desiring and being desired. The novel eloquently explores Sydney’s coming of age as she grapples with female objectification and male attention, both sought after and unwelcome. This is a powerful psychological thriller with writing that is eloquent, pacy and packs a strong feminist punch. I loved it and devoured it in one sitting. It will be enjoyed by fans of thrillers and feminist stories ages 14+.