Friday, June 11, 2010

Review: The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Tags: YA, summer, romance, ocean


16-year-old Mia Gordon was planning for a boy-free summer, after having her heart broken by a boy whom she thought loved her. The Gordons stay in the Hamptons with Mia’s beloved cousin Corinne’s family. However, things have changed since Corinne and Mia last hung out. Suddenly, Corinne is slim, beautiful, and fashionable, and has better things to do than hang out with the totally uncool Mia.

But then Mia meets Simon, whose family is renting the house next door, and her summer begins to change unexpectedly. Like her, Simon also feels like an outsider in the exclusive Hamptons teen community, and they hang out nearly every night on the beach. Even as they each struggle with their own family problems, they grow closer, and Mia finally begins to understand to love herself, to love living, all because of one boy.


Normally I’ve gotten over the whole “the summer that changed my life” trope, but THE SUMMER OF SKINNY DIPPING was a surprisingly well-written, poignant, and deep read. Its cover suggests a good beach pastime, but it’s a story that will resonate during any season.

Amanda Howells does an excellent job of writing well-rounded characters that are more than just types. There are numerous layers to the interpersonal complexities of Mia’s life, from her parents’ rocky relationship, to Corinne’s two-facedness, to Simon’s own family issues. That is why this book cannot simply be classified as a summer love read, because it runs deeper than that.

Of course, this book’s back-cover summary implies there will be a romance, and thankfully Mia and Simon’s budding relationship was equally well developed. Simon doesn’t come off as an irritatingly perfect male specimen, irresistible to all womankind but wanting only Mia. (Whew *wipes sweat off brow*.) Their relationship is a relaxed, alternately playful and serious, dance across the summer, and we grow to love the way they work together in spite of all their individual difficulties.

THE SUMMER OF SKINNY DIPPING is a worthy read this summer, and the best part is that it’s a good deal in paperback form. Be sure to check this one out if you’re looking for a gentle yet emotional story of love, family, and self-discovery.

Similar Authors
Aimee Friedman (Sea Change)
Jenny Han

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - I think it makes a lovely picture, but that was not at all how I pictured Mia, who is depicted as strong, with an almost athletic build. When will the bias towards heavier or more muscular cover models end?

Sourcebooks Fire / June 1, 2010 / Paperback / 304pp. / $8.99

ARC received from publisher.


  1. I will be sure and check this out soon. Thanks for the great review with so much detail!

  2. Great review. I've heard lots of great things about this book. I'll have to check it out.

  3. Seems like a great summer beach read! You're right about the cover, though--the picture of that model doesn't do a good job of portraying what the book is about.

  4. The title is definately a Hook, I would have picked it up just because of the title.

  5. Good review. This sounds like one to try, if summer ever comes.

  6. Wonderful review...I really loved this one too, it's a unique and different way.

  7. I have yet to read this one, but it sounds like the perfect balance of a not-quite-chick-lit summer read. Thanks for the great review! :)

  8. Just finished this one, but I wish Simon were more developed! I felt like something was missing...Still, Amanda Howells has a beautiful writing style!

  9. Sounds intriguing and just what I feel like reading at the moment. I immediately though of Jenny Han and smiled when I saw it listed in the similar authors section.

    Great review (as always SS)!


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