Review : The Summer of Skinny Dipping

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
Pages : 295
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating : 

What it’s about :

Mia couldn’t be more excited to be spending her summer in the Hamptons with her family; she loves the beach and the sea, and she has always been close to her cousin Corinne. She envisions a summer of fun, secrets and laughs… until she gets there and realize her cousin has changed since the last time she saw her. Stuck with Corinne, her sister and her friend, whose snobby attitude makes her more self-conscious than ever, Mia tries to accept that her summer won’t be as she had hoped.

Then she meets Simon, their summer neighbor. Though she’s at first unsure of him, their walks under the moon allow her to trust him, and their friendship quickly turns into something more…

My Thoughts :

It’s been said by many readers that The Summer of Skinny Dipping is no fluffy read. I can now confirm this; despite its summery cover and premise, this book isn’t one I would qualify as a fun beach read – nor is it really a romance, despite “falling in love” being a very important part of it. It will definitely bring summer to you; I could feel the sand and smell the sea through the pages and it did make me wish I was there. However, there is a lot more depth to Mia’s coming-of-age story, and while the book can easily be read in a day, it’s definitely not one to get you up when you feel down.

As the main character, Mia was an interesting one and one that I could relate to – not as I am in the present, but as I was when I was her age. My first thought was that she was naive, but I really prefer the word innocent to describe her. She is at that point in her life where her perception of the world is facing reality, and the last threads of her innocence are slowly broken. Through the events of that summer, she learns that things are not always as they seem, and that the people she envy might not be as perfect as they look.

Though her outlook on life still has this innocence, Mia is also an over-thinker. She questions everything and imagines the different outcomes, and that’s why I can’t consider her naive. She definitely perceives that something is going on with her family, but she never knows what until she is told. When you read a novel that is narrated by the main character, you are asked to believe their version of the story; in this case, it was interesting when Mia realized that she didn’t know her family that well, because the stories she had fabricated about them – and narrated repetitively as truths – do not match the reality.

The narration felt very intimate and quiet, giving the book a very slow pace. Until the end, the story had very few surprising turns. Mia’s romance with Simon develops at a nice pace (no insta-love!) and I could appreciate that they were friends first. I was surprised by how well Simon’s character was described from Mia’s point of view. I felt the author had a very clear view of him and allowed him to be an individual, rather than just a pretext for romance.

I guessed the ending very early in the book, and I’m still not sure whether it’s a good thing or not. Predictability can be either, really; if we compare to movies, you can enjoy thrillers that are surprising and twisted, but prefer romantic comedies to end with the predictable happily ever after. In this case, I don’t know; I think the ending would have hit me more strongly if I hadn’t seen it coming, but knowing it created a tension that was almost unbearable.

The Summer of Skinny Dipping surprised me in a positive way. While I wish the pacing would have hold my attention a little better, its story is powerful and its narration is full of heart. I also think it offers interesting possibilities for discussions about self-worth, happiness and identity.

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5 responses to “Review : The Summer of Skinny Dipping”

  1. RichardB1001 says :

    very helpful review. thank you

  2. BermudaOnion says :

    The book sounds really good. It kinds of seems they did it a disservice with that cover.

    • kay says :

      I agree. In a way the picture fits perfectly with the happiest parts of the book, but it really doesn’t advertise the depth of the story.

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