Book review: The Summer of Skinny Dipping

Every once in a while, a book comes along and speaks to you on such a personal level that you’re not the same after reading it.

Sara recently spent a week featuring The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells here on Novel Novice. She wrote a spot-on review and posted an extremely intelligent Q & A with the author; those two things convinced me to give it a try. (We’re also holding a contest that ends Saturday the 7th at midnight.)

Since Sara’s review covered the basics so well, I’m going to get a little personal with mine — forgive me. This is less of a review and more of a love letter to the author and an indulgent trip down memory lane.

There are several specific things about Skinny Dipping that I want to highlight:

  • Relationships between teens and parents: Newsflash — parents are people, too. Not all that long ago, they were you. I remember one of the most shocking things I learned growing up was that my parents had a life before me. They are not perfect. The things they did that upset me and I thought were so unfair … yeah, I do the same things now. I understand it all — I get it now. And that comes through in living color in Skinny Dipping.
  • The beach: I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio. Our town’s beach was closed at night but once, on a summer night with a group of friends, we snuck through the gates and headed down to the sand. I’d been to the same beach a million times, but it was like visiting the place for the first time. In fact, it was like visiting another planet. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I’ve even tried to capture it in my own work-in-progress, so when Howells devoted almost an entire book to it, I was in heaven. If you’ve never experienced a beach at night — GO.
  • Tragedy and messy endings: Bad things happen all the time. They will happen to you, and they will happen to people you know and love. It sucks, but it’s reality. Some of you are going off to college in the next few weeks. College rocks, so have a good time … but read Skinny Dipping first. It will help you prepare for some situations (and substances) you may not have dealt with yet.
  • There’s nothing wrong with being “normal”: Growing up, I had a cousin I adored. We were like sisters. But I lived in a small town and she lived in a big city. She had the coolest clothes and knew all the greatest music months before it hit the airwaves in my area (yeah, this was when radio was still the main source). She took dance lessons at a studio that put on Broadway-esque recitals. I might as well have been wearing a flannel shirt, denim overhauls and stuck straw between my teeth. But you know what? We grew apart and now I’m the stable, successful, “normal” one. Her … not so much. While she couldn’t hold a candle to the divas in Skinny Dipping, I saw traces of her and I saw more than a trace of me in Mia.

Sorry about that, Novel Novice peeps. It’s just that every page of The Summer of Skinny Dipping reminded me of something from my past and I’m betting the same will be true for most readers. 

If you read one book this summer, make it The Summer of Skinny Dipping.

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