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Dress Coded

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,105 ratings  ·  313 reviews
In this debut middle-grade girl-power friendship story, 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 when she had to keep her sweatshirt wrapped around her waist.

Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn't, even though
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 7th 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  1,105 ratings  ·  313 reviews

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Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
***read for YA lit course***

i think the intention is there. the story tackles the unfair dress code policies that sexualize and shame young students (primarily girls) which i can 100% get with. HOWEVER, there is a lot of other stuff going on (love triangles, bullying, abusive brothers, BEARS) that was pretty irrelevant and seemed to be handled as an afterthought. the characters didn't feel realistic to me (is it bc i'm not a tween?? couldn't say, but in my experience eighth graders don't talk li
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, 2020
I thought that the main story about how girls in middle school are unfairly targeted for dress code infractions was really impactful. It shows how young girls feel violated by the ways their bodies and clothes are being scrutinized, much of the time by adults. Seeing the characters all come together to try and bring about change was great.

HOWEVER, the subplot about the main character’s older brother being addicted to vaping was just so fucking ridiculous. It was like a melodramatic after school
Focused on issues related to women's bodies, objectification, sexualization, puberty, and more this middle grade novel hits all of the right elements of a conversation to have with EVERYONE about policies-- who they're meant to hurt and who they're meant to help and always being able to have a conversation about them.

The main character of the story decides to take to the airwaves-- well podcast airwaves-- to openly discuss the dress code at their middle school that punished the entire grade (wh
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
**I received this eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.**

The gist of this story is that 8th grader Molly Frost begins a podcast called "Dress Coded" in response to how the dress code at her middle school is handled. There is a lot of discrimination and harassment taking place by students and faculty. How the students are treated, especially the females, is an important topic. However, there is a secondary story that develops and is just as equally important in my opinion: illegal
Nicole Kronzer
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I got an ARC of DRESS CODED, and I can't wait to give it to my daughter today when she gets home in a few minutes. It's so good and so powerful. I love the short chapters--they're almost like poetry. I love the timely issues. I love how complicated the characters are, and that there are good adults--one of the characters tells kids to "look to the light." It's such an important message for kids to hear that if one adult doesn't address the wrong, to keep looking for one who will. And that kids h ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
This is one of those books I picked up for the large cast of narrators. I really liked the parts about the dress code itself and the way the students, particularly the female students, banded together to create real change. It's a microcosm of the political awareness today's kids have to have given what's happening within our country. There's a focus on the sexism of the policy, as well as a mention of the way it can be racist as well.

What I was not prepared for and didn't like as much was the
Jessica Edelheit
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved the unique style of this book and I believe its short chapters propelled my reading. I couldn't put it down. These 13-year-olds are the kind of people I wish I had been friends with. As a middle school English teacher I will be ordering multiple copies for my classroom library. Cheers to Carrie Firestone!! ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I completely loved this book and enjoyed cheering along Molly and crew as they took a stand for themselves. Sadly, dress codes like the one in this story are all too common in schools and I love the way this book addressed the negative impact they can have on girls. There were a lot of great layers to this story - Molly’s relationship with her brother (and family overall), the various friendships amongst students, encounters with school staff (both positive and negative). This book has humor and ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! This book is a must read for all middle schoolers—and their families.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. I picked up an advance reader copy of this book at the Public Library Association conference last week. I’m not a librarian, but do work in book publishing, and I'm always on the lookout for books for my niece. She’ll be ten this fall, and this book is listed as for 10+. It’s an excellent book, but I think she’s still a bit young for it. The main characters are all 12-13, which seems a good age for readers of this novel, though obviously it depends on the reader. The plot deals with g ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I contributed this review to Really Into This

Check out all of our reviews at
Happy Reading, friends!

I love this book so much that I am buying a copy next time I head to my bookstore. First, this book truly seems like it is coming from the voice of an eighth-grader. Molly is just amazing. Readers hear & see her finding & using her voice throughout DRESS CODED.

Young girls are being treated unfairly at this middle school. Called out for not following the dress code, they
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is another all young girls should read. Dress codes in middle school...ugh...fighting against unfair treatment and harassment over clothing...YES! A great book about fighting for what’s right and what you believe in!
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I’ll post that review upon publication.

Updated 7/7/20

3 stars

This is a wonderful concept, and it is truly charming to watch and listen to the main character, Molly, outline her grievances, make space for others, and find creative outlets (notably a podcast) for achieving these goals.

Molly notices the injustice surrounding dress coding early on, but it's a particular instance that proves the fi
Laura Gardner
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lives up to the hype!! (Audio is great!)
Immediately adding this to our collection, as well as my 10 Questions for Young Changemakers booklist. Love reading and recommending fiction that shows teens taking action on issues that matter to them. 😍
#dresscoded #carriefirestone #youngchangemakers #library #librarian #futurereadylibs #iteachlibrary #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #librariesofinstagram #librariansofinstagram #librariesfollowlibraries #librarylife #librarianlife #schoollibrarian #midd
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wasn’t expecting much when I picked this up. Lately, all YA realistic is just nothing but an author trying to be super relevant and diverse and they plug in all the buzz words into their story that don’t belong there and ruin it.

This author? She did not do that. She made it relevant to kids today and it didn’t feel forced or fake. I thought of so many of my students in these characters.
Up until reDing this, I was pretty stubborn on my belief in the need for a dress code. It actually changed m
Molly Frost is your typical 8th grader. She struggles with self-esteem and body issues, she works hard to do well in school, she's finding her place between new and old friends as kids grow, mature, and change. Unlike other 8th graders, though, Molly's family is falling apart. Her 17 year old brother, Danny, won't stop vaping and is starting to sell vaping pods to other kids, including kids at Molly's school. Molly is constantly stressed and feels like her family is falling apart. When she sees ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Okay, just realized this is my third book review in one day. please bare with me now for the last one. Dress Coded.

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I finished this in literally three hours I am not kidding you. As a person who is very "Don't you dare disrespect me for being a girl." and "EQUALITY, EQUALITY FOR ALL" (shout out to Susan B. Anthony) kind of person this book was like chocolate for my mind.

The way that it was written, switching between podcasts, lists, normal writing, and poems made it very enj
Madalyn Freeman
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. It was so inspiring and good and made me feel good for the way Molly looks out for and loves the people around her and I aspire to be as brave as her. Would definetly recommend. It shows a ton of struggles we go through during middle school and high school and how we aren't alone In it. I did feel like a lot of the characters didn't have a ton of thought put into them, and nobody really stook out to me as an amazing charcter, along with a couple subplots that felt like fillers to me. ...more
Shannon McNeice
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Spot on. I want to send copies to every member of the Board of Ed in my town!
Amy Miller
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet, engaging, empowering middle grades novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to young readers.
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened and read this girl power title.
Molly is in 8th grade, with body image issues, a brother who is causing strife in the family by vaping, and changing friendships. She starts a podcast to illuminate the unfairness of the dress code at the middle school. Lots of characters and story lines, and it all works.
Stand up against the injustice that you see.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good. I littery couldn't put it down. I think that it said the right things about dress coding and the author also did a great job for the other part of the story. ...more
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book about young girls making change in their schools 😍🤩😍🤩.....everything I love about a middle grade book. Already put on hold for Leah.
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, arc, 2020
Review originally published 5 July 2020 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Dress Code Enforcement

My instinctual response to the enforcement of the dress code in Dress Coded was that it’s a bit over top and leans almost into parody. It’s like every single bad story you’ve heard about dress coding happening at one school. Unfortunately, I’m sure there are schools just like Molly’s. The message and actions of Molly and co. will still resonate with any kid wh
A really good middle-grades book about the inherent sexism behind many school dress codes. Molly Frost, 8th grader at Fisher Middle School, is fed up with the administration's arbitrary dress code. She's seen the kind of emotional damage it's caused her friends, though--as a late bloomer--she has yet to be "pulled over" for her clothing choices. (The very fact that she hasn't, even when she's been wearing exactly the same outfit as her more developed friends, tells her everything she needs to kn ...more
Moira Smith
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a great book for discussing how women's bodies are objectified starting in childhood. The school officials in this story reinforce the idea that girls are responsible for the behavior of boys, and I enjoyed the girls rallying to their own defense. However, I found the vaping addiction story bizarre - it seemed to come straight from a 1980's after-school special. I was half expecting Nancy Reagan to appear as a ghost warning about the dangers of smoking. The brother's behavior (a rehab st ...more
Phil Jensen
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comments from a teacher
I have spent most of the last 18 years teaching grades 6-8. Here's my experience:
* Last year, one of my seventh grade students missed 25 minutes of class because she was wearing a crop top which exposed her belly button. It did not cause any disruption to class, and it couldn't even be seen while she was sitting in her desk.
* It is completely believable to me that adults would be as dress code obsessed as they are in this book. Some people get really into enforcing the dre

There was so much I liked about this book. It’s rare to see middle grade or YA slice of life that isn’t centered on romance, and it is always so refreshing to read a book centered around friendship and positivity. Kudos for this first of all.

Second: the message being advocated is so important and worth talking about in all schools, and in all grades. Dress codes unfortunately do punish girls more than boys for having bodies, and it’s not right. A young woman should be able to wear shorts or a t
Samantha (WLABB)
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I worked in a school for over a decade, and it's a fact that the dress code is more restrictive for the female population. It is also true, that more developed young women tend to be "reminded" about the dress code more often than their less curvier peers. Firestone brings up these and many other important facts in this book which sees some young women challenging being dress coded in their own school. During the Dress Coded podcast, many students, current and former, shared the
Sierra Dertinger
This is such an empowering book about standing up for what's right, even if others deem it's wrong.

Molly takes on a major issue occurring in her middle school: being dress coded by Fingertips, the principal, and rude male staff. Molly is not like the many girls that do get dress coded *many* times a day... the reason why is that she doesn't have a big butt or chest. She goes unnoticed. However, it's not fair that her friends wearing the same kind of clothing like herself, but do have a bigger b
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