Monday, 13 August 2012

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

About the book
The Summer of Skinny Dipping is a contemporary YA novel by Amanda Howells. It was published on 9th March 2011 by Source Books and it is 304 pages long.

After getting dumped by her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Mia Gordon is looking forward to spending a relaxing summer in the Hamptons with her glamorous cousins. But when she arrives, her cousins are distant, moody and caught up with a fast crowd. Mia finds herself lonelier than ever. That's when she meets her next-door neighbour, Simon Ross. Simon isn't like the snobby party boys her cousins seem obsessed with; he's funny, artistic and utterly adventurous. And from the very first time he encourages Mia to go skinny-dipping, she's caught up in a current impossible to resist.

What I thought
I’ve really been looking for something light and summery to read, something to help me escape the stressfulness of real life so I borrowed this book.

The idea for this book was great. Mia and her family go away for the summer to stay in The Hamptons with her cousins/ aunt and uncle ready to spend a lot of time on the beach and in the sea. As the main voice of the story, Mia was a nice character to follow. She was real, had insecurities which were more than justified and all in all, she just seemed like a really nice girl. Her cousins are rich and beautiful but Mia knows who she is and doesn’t want to change so that was something I really liked about her.

Mia’s cousins and friends however, were not the best of characters. They were quite shallow, full of themselves and frankly, annoying. They were all too up themselves and although there was slightly more to them than first meets the eye, they still weren’t very likeable. A lot of time is spent showing the difference between Mia and her cousin/ friends but I think the time could have been used in a better way, maybe for character development as most of the characters didn’t have much to them.

Then there is Simon, the love interest. He was probably the most interesting character in the whole book. Starting out by quoting The Great Gatsby and being an artist, Simon seemed to know exactly who he was and was proud of that. As he and Mia got to know each other better, I grew to like him even more. Simon was daring and exciting and a good contrast to Mia who was very sensible. Again though, I don’t feel as though the time with Simon was spent to its full potential. I wanted to see more of Mia and Simon together, I wanted their relationship to develop better than it did and I wanted more from them.

However, the majority of the story was sweet and light and summery, just like I wanted it to be. A lot of time is spent either on the beach or at the holiday house and this made it the kind of read I was looking for. Amanda Howells’ writing was descriptive but not overly so; it was done enough so that you could feel what the character’s surroundings were like. I felt as though I could have been in The Hamptons myself and it really took me away from being on a train (where I was while I read this book).

The end of the book was really not what I was expecting after having read the previous 250 pages. The end of the book comes with a real shock. Instead of the light and fluffy story that I had experienced so far, the events of the end of the book were a real shock. They were quite hard hitting and extremely unexpected. While the twist in the story was good, it wasn’t nearly long enough. I felt as though the end was really rushed and feelings and thoughts were bypassed. I wanted answers and explanations and I don’t really feel as though I got this.

While I liked this book, it wasn’t amazing. For the most part, I think that some things were drawn out too much while more important parts of the story were skimmed over. Still, it was a nice summer read with an unexpected ending. 

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