The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: June 1, 2010
Sometimes I still wake up shivering in the early hours of the morning, drowning in dreams of being out there in the ocean that summer, of looking up at the moon and feeling as invisible and free as a fish. But I'm jumping ahead, and to tell the story right I have to go back to the very beginning. To a place called Indigo Beach. To a boy with pale skin that glowed against the dark waves. To the start of something neither of us could have predicted, and which would mark us forever, making everything that came after and before seem like it belonged to another life.My name is Mia Gordon: I was sixteen years old, and I remember everything...."
After getting dumped by her boyfriend, Mia is looking forward to spending a relaxing summer in the Hamptons with her glamorous cousins. But when she arrives she find her cousins distant, moody, and caught up with a fast crowd. Mia finds herself lonelier than ever, until she meets her next-door-neighbor, Simon Ross. And from the very first time he encourages her to go skinny dipping, she's caught in a current impossible to resist.
Timeless in feel, The Summer of Skinny-Dipping is a poignant, literary coming-of-age romance that will live on long after summer has ended.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping was the complete opposite of what I was expecting- but in a good way! This was a refreshing summer read with well developed characters and an inspiring message, but there was a darker, more emotional side to it as well. Mia was a great main character that many people can relate to. She's a bit unsure of herself, has just been through a sad breakup, and she's on a mission of self-discovery. Mia is an average girl, who doesn't give herself enough credit. While visiting her beautiful cousins, she's constantly comparing herself to them and feeling like the third wheel. Corinne and Beth appear to have the perfect family life and can have anything they want. Mia's family is a little troubled, her mom too demanding and her little sister the same. Family plays a big role in The Summer of Skinny Dipping and I really liked how readers gain a better understanding of each of the characters by the end of the novel; some of Mia's family members are revealed to be not the perfect people they first seemed, and others better than she ever imagined.
Mia wasn't the only great character. Corinne, while annoying and a bit rude at first, was a good person, who just needed someone to understand her. As I mentioned before, Mia's family was really complicated and there was a lot of underlying emotion and secrets boiling under the surface. Barely anyone was as they seemed! Howells did a good job of not only developing the main characters, but the secondary ones as well. Characters like Mrs. Ross, Stacy, and Shep all seemed entirely realistic by the time the novel was done and I could even imagine what they looked like.
The plot was an original and complex one. Some things were a bit predictable, but it overall flowed smoothly and had quite a few twists that really surprised me! This was a memorable and detailed read, in all. Every sentence in this book had a place, and her talent for detail was amazing, making it easy to imagine everything Mia saw and felt.
I have to mention the romance- Simon. Mia and Simon's relationship was slow building and well done. It was realistic, believable, and so sweet. Simon was a great and unique male character, that definitely stands out in the sea of YA love interests. He was rebellious, kind, understanding, and mature- he knew what he wanted from life and how to treat Mia right. The nights he spent with Mia on the beach and swimming in the ocean were so memorable, and the ending just... can't be put into words.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping was an exceptional debut, that had me crying, laughing, shouting, and smiling. It was original and well done, with great characters and a sweet romance. If you're looking for a vivid, refreshing summer read with depth, The Summer of Skinny Dipping is the book for you! Amanda Howells is definitely an author to watch out for!
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars