Book Review: Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone
Author: Carrie Firestone
Published: July 7, 2020
Reviewed By: Cristina
In this debut middle-grade girl-power friendship story, perfect for fans of Moxie , an eighth grader starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school and sparks a rebellion.
Molly Frost is FED UP…
Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top.
Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn’t, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit.
Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F.
Because it’s impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips.
Because girls’ bodies are not a distraction.
Because middle school is hard enough.
And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what’s right, and they’re not backing down.
Molly is an 8th grader at Fisher Middle School. FMS has a dress code. One that gets enforced. Ruthlessly. So when her friend gets “pulled over” for violating the code and humiliated by the principal Dr. Couchman, Molly decides to start fighting back. She starts a podcast to make others aware of the way the girls of FMS are being targeted, shamed and bullied–by the administration adults– simply because:
A bra strap was showing.
A shirt that showed a little sliver of stomach.
Shorts that didn’t hit the “finger tip” rule.
Hair that was “too big.”
What will it take to get the school board to revisit and fix the dress code issue at FMS? Molly isn’t sure, but she’s willing to do what it takes to get the issues addressed.
*While this book has an AR of 4.8( See below review for explanation of AR), it is full of difficult topics. Body shaming from authority figures. Family issues. Vaping. Friends figuring out that they are gay. All issues that many middle school students deal with in real life. I strongly encourage reading it with your reader for some great discussion opportunities.
This book caught my eye because in 7th grade in my middle school in Louisiana, I was “pulled over.” My shorts were apparently too short. Two other girls and I were told to kneel on the floor. If our shorts didn’t touch the floor, we would be against dress code. My shorts hit just above my knee; I got in trouble and was told to call for a change of clothes. I felt humiliated and embarrassed. The other girls were given a warning, even thought their shorts were even shorter than mine! How was this even fair?! My incident of being “coded” was in 1990. Reading this book made me sad to realize this was still such an issue, and hopeful to see that it getting addressed more and more. The way Molly and her friends fight for their voices to be heard is positive and inspiring. I hope many girls (and guys!) read this book and think about how they can make their voices heard as well.
***Accelerated Reader (AR) is used by many schools to track students’ reading comprehension. Each number range represents the reading level for each grade. For example, 3.0 represents a 3rd grade reading level. However, each child will have a reading level range determined by testing what is appropriate for them.