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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Review: The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

This is a nice throwback YA novel. It's not all about Prada and throwing around name brands, it's not dystopian or about teenagers acting like grown-ups. It's not even about sex. There is some drinking and partying, but nothing too crazy.

The summer that Mia is sixteen, her family (parents, little sister) come back to their family's beach house on Long Island (now owned by her aunt) so hang out with her aunt family (parents, two girls). Her cousin Corinne is the same age as Mia, and in the past they were good friends. Mia's getting over being dumped by her first boyfriend, and looking forward to rebonding. Corinne however is not the same. She's a bit snarky, she's given up on ballet which she's done her whole life, she's drinking and being nasty to Mia and to her parents, although Corinne's parents seem perfect to Mia. Naturally, nothing is as it seems. Mia meets the boy next door (artist, interesting) who eventually persuades her into the skinny dipping of the title. She stands up for herself in the face of her cousins (and their friends) who are all too cool for school. And she learns a lot about herself and the world in the process.

I really enjoyed this book! Although it's traditional, it didn't succumb to stereotypes. Mia isn't just strong and self-confident - she frequently struggles with wanting to be accepted by Corinne et al. She has a good relationship with her father (although we only see that once). She wants to be a marine biologist and is a little sporty, but not super-sporty, and so while she isn't stick-thin, she's not overweight and she knows that's okay. She knows the only way she could be super-skinny would be through anorexia and she isn't going to go there. The boy she likes, Simon, while he's an artist and isn't very sporty, he's also a little unique: no drinking, he has epilepsy, not terribly rebellious. I like that she and her mother understood each other better at the end, and also that she came to understand her cousin's family isn't as perfect as she thought. The ending is shocking but fits. I thought this book had good messages (but does not bludgeon us with them), realistic and fully-drawn characters, and summertime at the beach: what more can you want?

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

1 comment:

Julie P. said...

I've seen this book all over the blogosphere and I think it sound terrific! One that I'd like my daughter to read in a few years!