Skin (by Adrienne Maria Vrettos)

25 02 2011

A few days ago I talked about how Joanna Kenrick didn’t really take the right stance towards her (sensitive) writing topic in Red Tears. Coincidence threw Adrienne Maria Vrettos’ first novel Skin (about anorexia, self-esteem, loss and survival) in my lap and if this book proves anything, then it’s that Vrettos succeeds where Kenrick failed.

Skin also deals with one of those traumatic and tragic (teenage) topics – anorexia – so it could easily have been another complaint ‘I can’t deal with life’ fest.  Luckily, it’s not. It’s a sad story, for sure, but it’s not straightforward, pathetic, or stereotypical. Part of this has to do with the fact that Vrettos doesn’t focus just on anorexia (if anything, I’d say this is Donnie’s tale first and foremost and Karen’s story second). Instead, Vrettos focuses on Donnie, a 14-year-old boy who’s caught in the middle between his parents’ disintegrating marriage, his sister Karen’s anorexia, and his life as an outcast at school. Donnie is almost an invisible entity, safe for his voice in the novel, of course, which speaks convincingly. I hesitate to mention the novel again, but Donnie reminds me a lot of Melinda Sordino in Speak. She too had found a way to almost become invisible.  Both come out of their isolation through a cathartic experience (in Donnie’s case it’s the arrival of 2 new kids – twins – at his high school).

Skin shows that a teenage story of rebellion and survival in a world full of chaotic emotions still works today if you find the right approach (point of view really does seem to matter when you talk about sensitive issues ) and if you have it in you to create powerful characters, like Donnie.



2 responses

13 01 2012
The Exile of Gigi Lane (by Adrienne Maria Vrettos) « Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] to take The Exile of Gigi Lane with more than a pinch of salt. It may not be as memorable a book as Skin, but Adrienne Maria Vrettos has a knack for stories with a bit of an edge so still enjoyable enough […]

24 07 2012
Beach Reads « Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] with similar such Serious Topics (teen depression, suicide, auto-mutilation, anorexia (here and here)) has been published. For putting self-harm on the YA agenda, you’ve got to give McCormick […]

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