Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

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. (from back cover)

As I was typing the summary, I realized that it is very vague and doesn't really tell you anything at all about the novel. So I'll give you the scoop: basically, Mia and her family go to the Hamptons in New York to stay at her aunt and uncle's beach house for the whole summer. This is usually a tradition, but it's the first time it's happened in a few years. Mia is really excited to see her cousin Corrine, who's the same age, and they are really close whenever they get together. However, since the last time Mia saw her, Corrine has transformed into a beautiful, and snobby, socialite, who likes to party and spend her parents' money. So we have this conflict about Mia feeling out of place... and the she meets Simon, the love interest.

I was really excited to read The Summer of Skinny Dipping because I love summer (and need some of the beach and warm sun to get me through this cold cold winter) and because I heard some good things about it from other bloggers. However, I was slightly disappointed with the book as a whole, and really disappointed with the ending.

Starting with the book as a whole, I definitely found The Summer of Skinny Dipping to be enjoyable. There was never a time where I wanted to stop reading nor do I regret this read. It was fun, the romance was light and cute, and it takes place at the beach, which in my book can make any novel infinitely better. I thought Simon was sweet and interesting because he likes The Great Gatsby and wants to be an artist.

What I didn't like was the class conflict and social distinctions that became very tiresome. Everything about the book centered around money, and sometimes even that wasn't enough. You have Mia and her immediate family, who isn't poor but is struggling, and Mia's mother was a debutante in her day. There's Mia's aunt and uncle and their family who are wealthy and have a lot of rich friends. There's Corrine's rich friends that come over for parties. And there is also Simon, who is also rich, but they are noveau riche, which is apparently a bad thing, meaning that their money is new and they still aren't part of the elite social stratum that constitutes the Hamptons. I don't have a problem with rich or poor people or anyone in between, but when all the conflict in the novel centers around these class distintions the novel becomes tiresome. It was all about how Mia didn't fit in and then how Simon also didn't fit in (though for two different reasons). I started to get sick of reading about stereotypical airhead rich kids (though obviously there are some). For some reason, all this just rubbed me the wrong way. At least Corrine started taking on some character development but all the rest of the characters were really shallow. This might not annoy anyone else but it just didn't work for me in the novel.

The part of The Summer of Skinny Dipping that disappointed me the most was the ending. It was obvious the author was going for some TRAGIC ENDING, but it just made me scratch my head and think, really? Not that I'm against sad endings or anything, I just thought this was was not well-written and not what I would have chosen. It was just so...bizarre.

Sorry if this review doesn't make much sense, I'm a little tired. But all in all, I definitely enjoyed The Summer of Skinny Dipping and think that it was fun read (until you get to the end, of course). I probably won't read it again, but you can still give it a try and see if you like it.
Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.
2010/Sourcebooks Fire/295 pages.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it would be great for their to be a character description for all the characters mentioned in the book. many people read the book and confuse and or don't remember some characters.