Saturday, 17 December 2011

"The Summer of Skinny Dipping" by Amanda Howells

There are some summers you'll always remember.

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.

A different kind of summer vocation novel, Amanda Howells's debut novel was an emotional, beautiful, thought-provoking read. Mia was a realistic and relatable character, even when she constantly compared herself to her perfect, 'flawless' cousins with seemingly enviable lives. This book really captured how it feels to be a teenage girl - not a perfect, happy-with-yourself, boys falling over to be with you teenage girl, the kind we often read about in YA fiction - a normal girl with dreams, ambitions, flaws, and a lot of insecurities. I loved how Mia's perspective gradually changed when she met Simon - he was amazing! He was so different (in a good way) to guys I usually read about in books, which was greatly refreshing. The ending was so unexpected, but bittersweet to a wonderful novel that I will be thinking about for a long time. It was also great to see how much Mia's loss still affected her in the Epilogue - and how she described Simon as "the love of her life". This was such a heart-breaking moment.

Rating: A+

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