Skin Deep (by Laura Jarratt)

17 01 2013

Told as a dual narrative, Skin Deep is a cutesy contemporary romance that actually explores more than just first love. Jenna is 14 and is literally scarred for life after haviskindeepng been in a car accident that killed one of her best friends and disfigured a large part of her face. As a result of this, she has withdrawn from life because she can’t live with the way people look at her and be shocked, feel pity, etc… until she meets Ryan, a 16-year-old traveler, with baggage of his own. His mom has bipolar disorder, she’s an old New Age hippie, and travels around with her son on their narrowboat. Ryan not only has to live with his mom’s moods, but also with the intolerance of many town people against travelers (he’s often called gyppo, for instance, or people assume he’s only there to steal, get into fights…).

Jarratt also delves into hot teen topics like prejudice and being judged by appearances, peer pressure and even throws in a bit of a murder mystery in her debut novel. Seems like a lot to pull off all in one book, but Jarratt manages it adequately, turning out an emotional and honest book that the cat definitely sees as a clear winner with the middle-graders.  There’s nothing spectacularly new or exciting about Skin Deep, but a book doesn’t always have to be that way for it to be a solid read. And that’s exactly what Skin Deep is: solid.

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