Friday, June 11, 2010
Review: The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
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.
Aimee Friedman (Sea Change)
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.