'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 2 March 2012

Review: Skin Deep

Ugly people don’t have feelings. They don’t notice if you stare at them in the street. They’re not like real people. Or that’s what I used to think. When I was younger. Before I learned.

Such is the enigmatic back cover blurb of this interesting teen novel. They are also the first words the novel’s central character Jenna shares with readers after the account of the horrific car accident that left her physically and emotionally scarred.

Teenagers Jenna and Ryan share the narration of this story about a young girl recovering from the loss of her friends and the scarring of her face in a car accident and a boy wandering the waterways with his mother in a narrowboat. Both teens feel like outsiders, disconnected from the community and their family. When they find each other, they finally find someone who understands.

Life is never that simple though. Ryan is viewed with distrust by the locals. When the driver of the car that caused Jenna’s accident is found dead, Ryan is a suspect and Jenna’s world is thrown into chaos once again, just as she was regaining her confidence.

Skin Deep is part romance and part crime story. It is an insightful look at the impact being different can have on emotions and self-esteem and how a traumatic event can change relationships with friends and family. Ryan’s mother, Karen, is bipolar and Ryan’s narration also provides some interesting insights into the pressures this places on Ryan and his relationship with his mother as the 16-year-old tries to find some stability in his home and relationships.

There are sexual references in this story, although these are infrequent and implied rather than described. The relationship between Jenna and Ryan is more romantic than sexual and there is an emphasis on the emotional needs they fill for each other.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was touching and thoughtful, although it also had light-hearted moments. I appreciated the way the author dealt with Karen’s mental illness and the emotional impact Jenna’s accident had on not only Jenna but also on her family.

Jenna and Ryan’s narration also connects the reader very strongly with the confusion, hurt, frustration and grief experienced by both teens as they deal with the challenges in their lives and the inner strength that helps them to overcome those challenges and move forward.

Title: Skin Deep
Author: Laura Jarratt
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont, $22.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1st March 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781742970233
For ages: 13+ years
Type: Young Adult Fiction