Title: The Summer of Skinny Dipping
Author: Amanda Howells
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub. Date: 6.1.10
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Love, Summer, Family, Secrets, Coming of Age
Description (from arc):
After getting dumped by her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Mia Gordon is looking forward to spending a relaxing, boy-free summer in the Hamptons with Corinne, her gorgeous and popular cousin. But Corine has better things to do – like ditch Mia at a party.
That’s where Mia meets boy-next-door Simon Ross. After devising a secret signaling system, Mia and Simon meet up nightly to swim in the cool, dark ocean and lie on the beach, talking and looking at the stars. Neither feels like they belong in the exclusive resort community.
Mia isn’t looking for love that summer, but she finds it. She finds a funny, artistic boy who lives boldly. She finds someone who understands her. And she finds herself.
I’m impressed. When I first saw The Summer of Skinny Dipping, I found myself judging it by its cover. It looks suspiciously like many other novels that often feature vapid, annoying characters and an overrated romance. I was so, so wrong. The best part? I knew that Mia would fall for Simon, it’s right in the description, but I could not put this book down. I found it ridiculously easy to identify with Mia and I wanted to examine the details of her summer… to see the how and why behind her love for Simon and the growth she experiences.
The novel starts with Mia heartbroken over the loss of her boyfriend. I’ll admit to being skeptical upon discovering that their relationship only lasted for two months and that Mia claims to have been in love with him. I’ll admit it: I scoffed. Then I remembered what it was like to be sixteen. I would have felt exactly the same way. Plus, I can’t fault Mia’s immaturity; I wasn’t far into the novel before Howells writes her character into the loss of that naïveté.
I’m stunned by Howells’ deftly written coming-of-age tale. There are many YA novels in which the main character spends the summer in the Hamptons, or some similar summer destination, and learns startling truths about herself and the sparkling world that she once thought was so perfect, but I don’t think I’ve enjoyed any as much as Howells’ portrayal. Mia begins the novel with a skewed perception of everyone around her, including herself. Slowly, she begins to see her family as they really are… and finds she couldn’t be further from the truth. So yes, this story has been told before. The difference is the fact that Mia’s voice is perfectly pitched and so real that it reads like a whole new experience.
And then there is the romance between Mia and Simon. I knew it was there all along, yet it still managed to sneak up on me. And punch me in the stomach and leave me gasping. There are so many things going on in this novel that I felt like I was in a hurricane of emotions praying to reach the eye of the storm. Then I finally did, only to be ripped back into the raging storm when I least expected it. *sob*
I’m not sure that my review of this novel is entirely coherent, particularly the bits about the romance, but maybe that’s for the best. I hope it prompts you to pick up this novel, if only because you are so confused that you feel you must discover what I’m blathering on about.
As mentioned above, I’m not a fan of the cover. It looks like one of the typical summer back reads, but it’s so much more. I hope it doesn’t dissuade readers!