Based on the title, The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells sounds like a light, fluffy summer read. And while it is the perfect book to read this summer, it is hardly light and fluffy. In fact, the novel delves into some deep issues and takes several dramatic twists that will keep you turning the pages and mulling over the book long after you’ve finished reading it.
What grabbed me first when I started reading The Summer of Skinny Dipping was the writing itself. Howells has many years experience as a ghost writer, and it shows. She has a mastery of the written word that flows easily onto the page and is a joy to read. Her writing invites you into the story, into the characters’ lives and into the setting — the lush environment of Southampton in the summer. Her writing evokes the very scenery she is describing, so that you get a very physical sense of the sand, the sea, the ocean air, the summer heat, the salt on your tongue, the taste of seafood from a clambake … Howells doesn’t just tell you about this place. She takes you there.
Howells does a masterful job of creating interesting, multi-dimensional characters, as well — and despite many opportunities to fall into caricatures (we’re taking about people rich enough to spend their summers in Southampton), Howells deftly avoids this pitfall. Her characters have layers and genuine, intriguing dilemmas — and perhaps none more so than the charming boy next door, Simon. From his first, endearing reference to The Great Gatsby to his very last line, the reader easily falls in love with Simon right along with our narrator, Mia.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping is a coming of age story in the most classic sense. But it’s also about love, family and the choices we make. It’s about the perceptions we have about our world, and what happens when those perceptions are shattered completely. It’s about what we do next; after everything has come crashing down. It’s about how we move on in the face of devastation and tragedy and change.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping is in stores everywhere, and being the middle of summer, there couldn’t be a better time to read the book than now. So go. Buy it. Read it. Devour it.
Novel Novice has some exciting features with The Summer of Skinny Dipping and author Amanda Howells coming up later this month. Tune in July 26th when the fun begins!