Show Me 5 Saturday, a meme started by Alipet813, will give each blogger an opportunity to give a brief description of a book they have read or reviewed during the week. It will work like this: Each Saturday you will post the answer to these questions:
1. Title of book: The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
2. Words to describe the book: YA novel
3. Location or characters you met:
- Mia Gordon: 16 year old Georgia girl vacationing at her cousins' beach house, Wind Song, in the Hamptons for the summer with her parents and younger sister Eva. Mia has been looking forward to spending a lot of time on the beach and re-bonding with her cousin Corrine whom she hasn't seen for 3 summers. She can't wait to discuss how her boyfriend Jake just dumped her. Three years is a lot of time in teen hood and when Mia arrives at the beach house, she is amazed at the change in her cousins Corrine and Beth. Okay, so she was never too close to Beth and neither was Corrine but now they seem joined at the hip and both have an attitude that worries Mia. Not that Mia is overly straight-laced, but she can't see the point in getting drunk and experimenting in drugs. Mia begins to feel like the country rube beside her two cousins and their wordly wise, sophisticated so called friends.
- Corrine: once Mia's closest cousin and confidante but now in three short years she has become a very jaded and over indulged 16 year old. To Mia's consternation, Corrine is now a girl who likes to party hearty, hang out with some shallow dubious characters and doesn't seem to have too much time for Mia. Occasionally, she tries to be the girl she once was but those incidences are short lived. Mia is truly concerned for her especially after she witnesses Corrines actions during a beach party. Where did Corrine's ambition to be a ballerina go? Or was that really her mother's ambition? She was a truly gifted dancer and now she is throwing all that to the wind to be Miss-oh-so- sophisticated. Everything to Corrine is "tedious" or so she tells Mia.
- Simon: teen self -proclaimed artist living in the rental house besides Wind Song. Simon is not too much the party type since his previous summer's humiliation with one of Corrine's friends. When he first sees Mia, he notices she is not like her superficial cousins. He likes to spend time on the beach at night and so does Mia. Simon teaches Mia that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and to live in the moment is not such a bad thing. These two, with their common love of the ocean and swimming, begin a real friendship, memories of which will stay with Mia for years to come.
4. Things you liked/disliked about the book:
- I really liked Mia as narrator. She has an authentic voice in her perspective. As a character, Mia is endearing. I liked the way she showed her feelings and thoughts about what was going on with her cousins. At times she envies them and wants to be one of the "in" crowd and yet she truly doesn't want to be like them. Such conflict! Howells does a terriffic job in getting that angst across to the reader. I think any teen can easily identify with these feelings.
- Howells managed to put me in the scene very early on and it was easy to feel Mia's sense of anticpation before arriving in the Hamptons and her sense of disappointment at how things really turned out.
- Mia's and Corrine's relationship with their mothers was very well done. Mia felt her mother didn't understand her true nature, wanting her to be something she wasn't going to be; a thin, social butterfly. I'm sure many teens could easily relate to that age old conflict.
- Friendships, relationships, loves lost and found, self-esteem, coming of age and learning that life is a balance of both the beautiful and the not so beautiful are just a few of the well developed themes in the book.
5. Stars or less for your rating: 4**** For a debut novel, this one is excellently done. I have not read too many books in the YA category but I thought this one was very enjoyable, easily read and had a lot of great insight into teenagers' perceptions of themselves and the world around them. The story flowed easily with very believable dialogue and characters in an interesting plot that kept me turning the pages. No dry spots here at all! Highly recommended.
About the author: Amanda Howells has always lived near the sea. She grew up on a small bay on the Atlantic ocean, spent summer weekends in the Hamptons while a college student in New york City, and now lives in the Pacific Northwest. She is a veteran ghostwriter of such bestselling series as Sweet Valley High and Fearless, and this is her first original YA novel.
Note: This book has numerous possibilities for discussion and would be a good selection for a bookclub or to be read by mothers and daughters together.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Sourcebooks. Thanks, Carrie!