Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 1, 2010
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."
Mia and her family are spending their summer with her aunt and cousins at their beach house in the Hamptons. Mia, getting over a heartbreak, is excited to head back to the beach and spend extra time with her cousin, Corrine. When she gets there, she realizes that Corrine has changed a bit and consequently, their relationship has suffered. Corrine is bringing along a friend from home for the summer and Mia isn't sure where she fits in. Things are looking pretty lonely for Mia until she meets Simon, the eccentric boy next door, and her summer starts to completely turn around. The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells is so much more than a care-free beach read. Mia learns a lot about life that summer in this haunting tale.
Mia is a character that I am confident most can relate to. She's dealing with some self-esteem issues and to make matter worse, her mom is always on her about her weight, her behavior, etc. Your heart goes out to Mia as, in my opinion, she puts up with a lot. Her cousin, Corrine, annoyed the heck out of me. She's the stereotypical nice girl who has transformed into a mean girl and only cares about what is "cool." I think Howells does a good job illustrating how people can change and relationships, which were once very close, can become strained. The character of Simon was very interesting. He's unusual, he's artistic, and he quotes The Great Gatsby. He's a bit of a tortured artist. Simon felt more real than the other characters and readers can easily see why Mia would be interested in him.
The setting of the Hamptons was perfect for The Summer of Skinny Dipping because this novel explores the idea of superficiality and how things look good on the outside, but behind closed doors, things aren't what they seem. I think the Hamptons can prove this point better than any other resort town as it's so showy and gaudy, but deep down there are can be many ugly secrets. Indigo Beach, the beach that Mia and Simon hung out at, was also vivid. It should come as no surprise that I love the beach, but at night, it's a whole different ball game. Personally, dark water is ominous and freaks me out. I don't mind the beach at night, but I never go in the water. Mia and Simon hung out a lot at night in the ocean and Simon's attraction to the water at night had me on edge. I feel like that made it a bit more foreboding.
If you are looking for a beach read this summer that has a little more substance and isn't as carefree as some others out there, The Summer of Skinny Dipping is for you. In fact, there is a sequel coming out this year called The Summer of Sneaking Out, so readers can continue to follow Mia on her coming-of-age journey.
*Read an excerpt