Thursday, June 21, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

The Summer of Skinny Dipping
By Amanda Howells
Source: Bought
Book Description:
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 quote:
If you stay on the sidelines of the here and now, then your future will only ever be a pale version of a dream you never had the courage to experience.

Expectations: I bought this book because I thought it would be perfect as a summer read, with the summery-looking cover and a summery-sounding description. It turns out it is a perfect summer read, and it went beyond my expectations to even become a really good read that can be enjoyed anytime, period. This novel isn’t the glitz and glam of summer. It’s so much more poignant and meaningful. It’s about a summer that can never be forgotten, spent with a boy filled with life.

About Setting: The book is actually divided into three parts: Southampton, Indigo Beach and Georgia. Mia and her family live in Georgia but the summer is spent in Southampton. Indigo Beach is a name given to a place in Southampton where Mia and Simon would spend time together in the early hours of the day. One word for the setting of this novel: mesmerizing. I was probably hypnotized to want to be able to go to a beach house the entire time. Throughout the novel, I was living in a daydream. It was so lovely.

About Characters: I was trying to figure out Mia from the start. With her situation around her cousins, Corrine and Beth, who have changed so, so much, Mia is left to be confused and alone. Which left me confused about her emotions. On one hand, Mia would like to be on the same level with her perfect-looking cousins, and on the other hand, she wouldn’t go against who she really is. But the question of finding herself still remains. That’s what I love about the novel: the development of character. As jovial Simon comes into the picture, Mia slowly finds pieces of herself.

Simon is also a crucial part in characters. He is a one of a kind guy, an artist, and someone you would like to be friends with. (He brings up references to literary books! ). With him, it’s all or nothing. His self is evident and exposing. His relationship with Mia stems from a friendship into something that is real and valuable. Together, it’s like nothing can break them apart.

There were minor characters such as Corinne and Beth, Mia’s parents and sister, Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Rufus. Each of them had something you can remember them by. The most important one is Corinne, who Mia was best friends with when they were young. They were described as being “two peas in a pod”. Corinne is a ballet dancer who now is struggling in life but appears to be perfect, beautiful, and flawless on the outside. Her friend, Gen, comes to stay for the summer to be with Corinne and Beth. The three girls I thought were full of themselves and had attitudes that made you want to tear your hair out. In the end, however, change miraculously happens.

About Plot: Mia arrives in Southampton with high expectations, living off of memories with her cousins and aunt and uncle from years ago. When things aren’t the same, Mia finds that the summer may not be all that great like it was before. For the first part of the book, I thought it was already heavy with sadness. I didn’t know the pain in my heart would get worse as it neared the end of the book. But it did. The plot is very well done with lovely, magnificent writing that takes you to the story as it is happening. It makes you feel the way the characters feel.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y Y
The Summer of Skinny Dipping is heart-rending and beautiful. It should be perfect as a stand-alone novel, but I just discovered that there will be a sequel called The Summer of Sneaking Out. I’m not sure how that will turn out though, seeing as the ending to this novel is fine the way it is. I’m hoping Amanda Howells can bring greatness to the sequel as she did with The Summer of Skinny Dipping.


  1. I've looked at this several times at the book store and wondered. I thought it looked like a perfect summer read of course and now I know it is worth reading-thanks.

  2. I've had this on my list for a while since before it came out, but still haven't read it yet! I really need to get my hands on it soon and read it. =D I love summery contemporary novels. They are so much fun to read!

    Great review!


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